For Lisa Sanchez, the Grand Champion winner at this year’s Poteet Strawberry Festival auction, it is the community support that truly makes farming berries worth it.
Sanchez is a grower with 4G Reyes Farms, who captured $16,300 at the auction.
4G Reyes Farms is a family farming partnership consisting of David E. Reyes, Joel A. Garcia, and their spouses, Lisa Sanchez and Leticia Garcia. The partnership started growing strawberries together in 2010.
They are currently located one mile north of Poteet on Ditto Road; but they started their farming operation on the family farmland located in Rossville, where they followed their family’s footsteps in farming.
Other strawberry farmers in the family were grandfather Ed Reyes (deceased), Albert Reyes (deceased), Richard Reyes (deceased), and currently David Reyes, Victoria Reyes, Steven Reyes, Amanda Reyes, Shirley and Alex Natal and Eugene Reyes.
Lisa was raised in Poteet and is the daughter of Willie and Beatriz Sanchez. She graduated from Poteet High School and lived in San Antonio for a few years, but that did not last long.
“I eventually moved back to my roots about six years ago, shortly there- after meeting my partner, David “Pops” E. Reyes; making this small rural community my forever home,” Sanchez said.
“Together with David, and with the support of my entire family, we raised my son, Joe Michael Guzman Jr., who is currently stationed in Okinawa Japan, serving the United States Marine Corp.”
She has worked in the municipal government field for over 17 years. Sanchez is currently working with the City of Natalia as City Administrator/ City Secretary since 2014.
As someone raised in Poteet, she has always known about strawberries. However, it was when she met David that she started getting involved in the berry growing business.
“David is a natural farmer, a raised agriculturalist passed down from many generations. I’ve seen him and his entire family viscously work the strawberry farms, helping each other, which essentially created extensions of the Reyes Farms. In essence, two cousins, David and Joel, fourth generation Reyes’s, established 4G Reyes Farms.”
Sanchez grew only the Albion variety of strawberries this year and won with that variety. She planted 5,000 plants of Albion, which is approximately one-third of an acre.
“I have always helped and been very involved in farming with my spouse David E. Reyes with his partnership, but this year was the second year in which I started formally purchasing plants and competing in the strawberry judging contest. Frankly, I was hesitant with the task, but what greater partners to have help than ‘the spouses.’”
The Albion plants were put into the ground the first weekend in October. Land preparation started in August with plowing, disking, and laying plastic in September.
“Many thanks to the Poteet Strawberry Festival Association for allowing us to use their plastic laying machine. After laying plastic and pre-irrigation, we commenced the process of handplanting the strawberry plants. It is a lot of work, but luckily we have lots of help from family,” Sanchez said.
She did face some challenges this year, as did all growers. They had a couple of late freezes which stunted and slowed production for a bit.
“But overall weather has been good to strawberry growers,” said Sanchez.
She especially enjoys the togetherness of 4G Reyes Farms
“They took me under their wing, slowly teaching me the ins and outs about growing strawberries, more so, that it’s not easy. It’s tiresome and overwhelming, and that there isn’t always going to be payoff, but the community support will always be there.”
What does Sanchez think is important when growing berries?
“Patience! And of course, the basic fundamentals of all living things stem from its foundation, including strawberries. Even the meagerness of picking out the weeds from the field is an important factor to their growth.”
She was shocked to learn she was this year’s Grand Champion winner.
“I placed my initials on the bottom of the box, but not my name, so they instead called out “A-13” and that was like having the golden-ticket. It was a very proud day for 4G Reyes Farms; we all have attributed towards the Grand Champion win,” Sanchez said.
“Being awarded the Grand Champion ribbon couldn’t have ever happened without the entire support from David E. Reyes, Joel and Leticia Garcia, of 4G Reyes Farms; especially the many family and friends involved throughout the entire season, year after year.”
She ended, “We want to send a huge thank you to all the sponsors, organizations, and individuals that volunteer, support and participate in the judging and auction. To the Poteet Strawberry Festival Association for all their support and hard work, and to all those who help make the festival be such an overwhelming success. Also many thanks to the local community for buying our produce year after year. We thank you