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Customers mourn after Fresno County produce stand shuts down for good

<i>KFSN</i><br/>Customers are sharing their sadness after a local Valley produce stand shut down for good this week.
Customers are sharing their sadness after a local Valley produce stand shut down for good this week.

By Alyssa Flores

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    CLOVIS, California (KFSN) — Customers are sharing their sadness after a local Valley produce stand shut down for good this week.

The Saeturn Fruit Stand had been in the field near the corner of Shaw and Locan in Clovis for more than a decade.

They had many loyal customers who looked forward to shopping for their fresh fruit and produce.

But now, the stand is empty and so is the field.

The business posted on Facebook and Instagram on Monday that it had wrapped up its last strawberry season.

Comments from community members came pouring in, thanking the family-run stand for 10-plus years of fresh produce.

The corner lot will be home to part of the Loma Vista master plan community development.

The family that runs the stand tells Action News that not having the lease renewed for their farm and stand was only part of the reason they were forced to shut down.

Lilian Thaoxaochay is familiar with the challenges the Saeterns and other strawberry growers face. She’s a small farms community educator through the UC Cooperative extension.

“Fresno strawberry growers don’t grow for commercial production, it stays completely local and they pick daily,” Thaoxaochay says.

“The increase in the cost of boxes and baskets, things that you don’t always think about when you purchase berries… those prices have gone up so much that with the drought, with the increase in PG&E… they just can’t make ends meet.”

She says small farms and stands are becoming harder to find as costs go up and Fresno County continues to quickly develop.

Most growers are leasing and small family farms are often replaced with more profitable developments.

“There’s one in Selma, one in Kingsburg, one strawberry stand in Reedley. They are all closed and you wouldn’t even know they used to be there,” Thaoxaochay says.

They’ve been replaced with new commercial construction, forcing their former customers to turn to supermarkets for fruits and vegetables.

“When we only get our food at the grocery store, I think what we lose is the connection between the people who eat the food and the people who grow the food,” says Ruth Dahlquist-Willard with the UC Cooperative Extension.

Saeturn Fruit Stand did encourage their customers to continue supporting other local fruit stands.

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