Sweet berries of blessings, Strawberryville Farms wins Reserve Grand Champion

Reserve Grand Champion Strawberry winners, Lorena and Jose Dominguez of Strawberryville Farms. NOEL WILKERSON HOLMES | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Reserve Grand Champion Strawberry winners, Lorena and Jose Dominguez of Strawberryville Farms. NOEL WILKERSON HOLMES | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Only one word describes how Jose Dominguez of Strawberryville Farms feels after his strawberries were named Reserve Grand Champion at this year’s judging contest during the Poteet Strawberry Festival. Blessed.

Dominguez’s history of growing strawberries goes back as far as the 1950s with his grandparents, Amadeo and Maria Garcia Sr., who won Grand Champion in the mid 1950s and then Reserve Grand Champion in the 1960s. His uncle, Amadeo Garcia Jr., also raised berries right here in Pleasanton at Garcia Farms. Dominguez’s farm is an abundance of sweetness with his strawberry plants of Albion, Ruby June and Monterrey. He planted roughly 5,000 plants between the three, which doesn’t include the ones he has from previous years.

“I learned everything that I know about raising berries from my uncle,” said Dominguez, who recalled uprooting 99 plants with wife, Lorena, from Amadeo’s farm to start his own a few years ago.

In June 2016, Dominguez inquired about purchasing 2,000 plants from the Poteet Strawberry Festival Association for his farm to which he was immediately invited to become an official Poteet Strawberry Grower and has been ever since.

Strawberryville Farms is located at 240 Mariposa Dr. off FM 476 in Poteet and is a self-picking farm. The name was inspired by Dominguez’s time in the US Army as a tank crewman from November 1988-92 in Germany.

“I recalled how many of the towns have so many people of different nationalities. Each person brought something unique, much like the people of the United States,” said Dominguez, who was also inspired by Lassen Canyon Nursery, a strawberry nursery in California. “There is such a variety of plants. I realized these berries aren’t just berries. Poteet is such a unique place with a variety of people who work hard to create a special strawberry that grow so much better here in South Texas than in other parts of the world. I thought, wow, wouldn’t it be awesome to grow a village of these plants myself? And that’s how Strawberryville got its name.”

Dominguez stated Poteet is filled with growers who breed different strawberries, each bringing something unique with their plants, and credits the growers for their hard work and willingness to help each other out. He gave thanks to Leonard Sanchez, Michael Vela, Donovan Garcia, Joel and David Reyes, and many others for their help and always being there for him. However, his biggest inspiration is Will Bates of Three Cousins Strawberry Patch, last year’s Grand Champion.

“Mr. Bates has always been like a dad to me and is always there for me when I need him,” said Dominguez through tears. “He’s just so loving and kind, as is every other grower in our small village.”

Besides the growers, Dominguez credits Strawberryville’s success to the support of his family and, above all else, God.

“I’m very blessed. God has restored a lot of mercy on me and my health. He provided me with a wonderful family who supports and encourages me.”

At the Poteet Strawberry Auction, Dominguez’s Ruby June strawberries sold for $7,100. He commented how the berry is full of a sweetness that makes you react as soon as you bite into because of how flavorful it is. “It’s by far my favorite berry, but everybody has different opinions and taste buds from mine and that’s okay,” he said.

Dominguez stated he will continue to carry on the legacy of Strawberryville Farms alongside his wife and family for as long as he can. “I have a few more years until I retire, but for now, I am just going to enjoy my life day to day, God willing, and growing berries is a part of that.”

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