Aptos and Monterey
Brian and Cione Murakami
112 Nancy Court
Watsonville, CA 95076
Established in the early 1950s by Tom Murakami, Brian’s father, the farm grew squash, mushrooms and strawberries, primarily on land located off Buena Vista Drive in Watsonville. Tom was one of the original farmers that founded the Watsonville Berry Co-op in 1954.
Murakami Farms began to concentrate solely on growing strawberries in the mid-1960s until planting kiwi in the 1970s as well as ume (pronounced oo-may), a Japanese fruit similar to a plum or an apricot. Brian became involved in the business full-time in 1977. He assumed ownership upon Tom’s retirement in the 1990s with a continued focus on producing a quality product and operating a business known both for high standards and integrity.
Murakami Farms sells its strawberries only to the co-op with most of the kiwi sold at farmers markets. Determined to bring only the best fruit to market, the business has placed an emphasis on the kiwi’s sweetness. The kiwi is left longer on the vine than perhaps on other farms, to increase sugar content.
Certification: Santa Cruz County, Santa Clara County, County of Monterey and California Department of Food and Agriculture
Soil: Sandy loam
Weed Control: By hand
Pest Management: For strawberries, beneficial insects are used. Brian is always on the lookout for alternative methods, such as the bug vacuum, to limit the use of pesticides.
Kiwi is known as a fruit that does not attract many pests, and that has been the farm’s experience with growing the crop. No pesticides are applied.
Water Use: Irrigation via micro sprinklers twice a week.
Workers: For strawberries, two year-round and 28 seasonal employees. For kiwi, three seasonal employees.
The ume is an exceptionally tart fruit and needs to be picked green. Initially planted by the Murakamis to provide a natural windbreaker, the ume crop represents a potential side venture for the farm in the future. At the urging of their friends and neighbors, the Murakamis are considering taking their housemade ume after-dinner aperitif, which is similar to a dessert wine such as a plum wine, to the commercial level.