Kao Strawberry Farm is located at the corner of West Shaw and Grantland avenues, where it has been in business for six years.

But when Nancy Saetern’s family went to open their seasonal strawberry stand in March, they found themselves stranded.

“It’s bad enough because a lot of people don’t know we’re open and we’ve been open for about a month.” Nancy Saetern

Instead of normal road traffic, family members encountered piles of dirt, earthmovers, and road closure signs.

“It’s bad enough because a lot of people don’t know we’re open and we’ve been open for about a month,” said Saetern, whose parents own the stand.

“My dad was like, we have to carry on as we can. And we’re just trying to grow so many vegetables and fruits for everyone. “

Long term shutdown

So what is going on?

Shaw Avenue between Hayes Avenue and Tisha Avenue will be closed until June 22 for improvements to accommodate residential construction, according to City Hall.

Meanwhile, the strawberry season peaks before ending in May.

In one Facebook post of March 16, the booth wrote: “Very recently they closed the 4 roads that lead to our booth, so there’s a chance we won’t open tomorrow unless they open a street.”

The post caught the attention of Fresno City Council member Mike Karbassi, whose Northwest District encompasses the region. The city opened up a lane for some of the traffic to pass.

“Originally there were closures both ways,” Karbassi said. “When the city found out, we reached out to their contractors and said, ‘We have to have some sort of access.’ “

Karbassi also said the detour signs were confusing, so he asked the public works department to make them clearer.

How to get there

Saetern says the best way to get to the booth is from the north. She says if anyone is taking Hwy 99, get off at Herndon and head towards Grantland.

Grantland will “bring you right to our place,” Saetern says.

The stand is open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.

2020 was a banner season

Saetern says the booth had a good 2020 despite the pandemic.

“COVID actually got us more customers because nobody really wanted to shop in stores,” Saetern said.

To combat the construction block, Saetern is posting to Facebook, Instagram and Nextdoor to let people know they’re open. However, she estimates that the booth’s activity is down by 50%.

Parents came from Laos

Saetern says his parents came to Fresno from Laos after leaving the refugee camps there in the 1970s.

“In the beginning, they were actually helping other strawberry growers,” says Saetern. “After my parents had their own funds, they decided to start their own farm and this is the one we have now. “

The farm is just behind the stand.

The future of Kao’s strawberry farm

Several subdivisions develop around the farm.

GVWire asked Saetern if she and her family intended to retire from farming with so many houses encroaching on all sides.

“I’m not too sure about the future plans, but I like that there will be more homes around us because that equates to more business,” she replied.

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