Westside Strawberry Ranch is back in business under a new local family • Long Beach Post News
The family that ran the famed Ramirez Strawberry Ranch closed it in late May after its patriarch, Rigoberto Ramirez Sr., 85, died of a COVID-19-related illness in February. Her son, Stanton adviser Rigoberto Ramirez Jr., temporarily took over the business but later decided to close in order to prioritize the care of his 78-year-old mother, who developed long-term health issues after having survived a COVID-19 infection.
Ramirez, 53, wanted to ensure that the land, leased from Southern California Edison, would continue to be used for agricultural purposes after the business closed. The community, he says, echoes the same desire.
After months of negotiations with Edison, Ramirez found a suitor: one of his father’s workers.
Leonides Castellanos, 58, had been picking strawberries for the Ramirez family for about seven years and had observed the production process, he said. Castellanos said the takeover was a quick decision as there was the option to continue planting for this year.
“The community spoke for it, and we did it,” Ramirez said. “I know the community is very good at supporting locals, and I hope that’s the case here in the future.”
Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Castellanos said he gained experience in this industry while helping his father and supporting his 10 siblings because Castellanos was not going to school. Now living in Carson, he continues his love for the field.
“I really liked farming,” Castellanos said in Spanish.
The Castellanos family plans to open the ground retail stand full-time starting this weekend from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or while supplies last.
While Castellanos has renamed the business “Santa Fe Strawberries”, he follows the same growing methods to retain the taste of strawberries as before. Besides strawberries, the Ramirez family grew fava beans, and now the Castellanos family has added passion fruit to the ranch.
On Saturday morning, some customers lined up for the iconic berries. Ten-year-old Ruth Castellanos, Castellanos’ granddaughter, packed strawberries for them. Her favorite part of helping her family with the new strawberry business, she said, was “eating them.”
Santa Fe Strawberries can be found at 3511 Santa Fe Ave.
After more than 50 years, the family strawberry ranch will close following the death of the patriarch