SANGER – A popular Sanger area fruit stand that made a name in nearby Centerville has a fresh start attracting fans to its new location to enjoy a wide variety of organic fruit and a scenic sunflower maze.
Sunflower Farm Stand – which built a reputation as Centerville Fruit Station for 14 years along old Highway 180 – has just completed its sixth week of operation at the southwest corner of 180 and Reed Avenue, next to the traffic light. The stand sells a variety of organic fruit including peaches, plums, pluots, blueberries, strawberries, cherries and watermelon.
Angela Strambi, owner of the stand along with husband Michael Strambi and brother-sister in-laws Joe and Vickie Herkell, said the business got a new lease on life earlier this year when Michael purchased the prime piece of real estate next to the 180-Reed T intersection.
“During the pandemic, we thought, ‘(we don’t know) if it’s in the cards for us’,” she said. “But we also thought, ‘we’re going to give it one more chance’.”
The stand’s history and reputation dating back to locations in Centerville, along Academy Avenue north of Sanger and even back to off Frankwood Avenue on the family farm in the late 1990s has helped boost its popularity at the new location. Michael Strambi is a third-generation farmer, and his grandfather moved to the Valley from Italy to establish the family roots.
An attraction at the stand that’s quickly grown in popularity is the half-acre maze of sunflowers just north of the stand. Vickie Herkell said that the maze contains 27 different varieties of sunflowers.
“Once they start blooming, they last about six weeks. After they’re done blooming, we planted a second smaller area,” she said. The maze has become a favorite stop for fruit buyers, and is a popular site for photos. An organic garden is situated next to the sunflower maze.
“We want to make this place a destination, where people can come in and enjoy what we are all about here in the Valley,” Herkell said. “We’re so fortunate to be able to grow all of this wonderful fruit. We get a lot of tourists that have never tasted a nectarine, and they’re just blown away.”
Kuldip Thusu, Dinuba City Council member and a past mayor, made his first visit at the new site and checked out the fruit in stock. He said he and his family particularly love yellow cherries, with his personal favorite being the tart variety.
In addition to all the fruit selections, visitors also can purchase jarred jams and a variety of food items inside the adjoining building.
“We have local honey and snacks, featuring local nuts and dried fruit,” Herkell said. She also showed local images shot by her husband, a retired professional photographer. The digital images he has photographed have been made into framed works of art.
“There’s something about this being a contagious place to come to, it really is,” Angela Strambi said. “People just love spending time out here. I’ve had the ladies come out and just watch the hummingbirds. They’re just amazed at the garden and the flowers.”
New batches of fresh organic fruit are available daily through about 6 p.m., and the stand should be fully stocked with fruit into fall.