By Hattie Robb
With its freezing winters and dusty springs, one can easily assume the Llano Estacado region is only suitable for growing cotton and raising cattle. However, a young couple disproves that theory with their first-generation strawberry farm in Lubbock, Texas.
I met with Dakota Keyser, the founder of Caprock Berry Farms, to discuss how he has overcome the odds to deliver fresh, hand-picked strawberries to the local community.
It all started when Keyser sought an opportunity to generate an income during his off season. He decided to start conducting extensive research regarding winter crops, and from there, he found a passion for strawberries. He then opened the operation in 2020.
“Strawberries kind of came to the top of the list in that first year or two of research.,” Keyser said. “We started with a really small amount that was around 5,000 plants. It truly looked like a really big garden, rather than a small farm.”
While it was a small amount, they were able to generate enough revenue to grow the operation for this year’s harvest. Since strawberries are considered specialty crops with a high risk and high reward, Keyser said managing the farm has been financially challenging. Without an operating loan from the county farm’s agency office, the business heavily relies on consumers’ preorders during the winter season.
In addition to capital, Keyser said the weather can also play a factor in sustaining the crops.
“That is where the high risk is involved,” Keyser said. “There is nothing natural about growing strawberries out here on the High Plains. We are constantly fighting the environment.”
Although these challenges remain present, the operation continues to reap all that Keyser has sown. He argues they have the best tasting berries in the state this year! Not only is the fruit delectably sweet, but it is also perfectly ripe. When you purchase a bundle of berries from Caprock Berry Farms, the operation delivers the produce directly from their field to your doorstep in just a few hours.
“I will go toe-to-toe with any berry you can buy on the market,” Keyser said. “Our value is in our crop’s sweetness.”
You can check out Caprock Berry Farms at the Wolfforth Farmer’s Market in May or purchase a bundle for fresh deliver on their website, https://caprockberryfarms.com.