Agave grows near the shore of Lake Chapala in Mexico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Mexico is one of the main reasons people have the opportunity to eat fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries year-round.

From one side of Lake Chapala it looks like there are patches of snow on the other. The reality is those are large tunnel hoop houses for berry growing.

The Guadalajara Reporter quotes the North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association as saying, “More than 75 percent of fresh blackberries consumed in the United States are grown in Mexico.”

Driscoll, a familiar name to many, is one of the big companies in the area.

The company’s website says, “There are a lot of people that must work together to put berries on your table. That’s why our business is run differently from others. We don’t grow our own berries. Our joy makers develop proprietary varieties and our nurseries cultivate the plants. We then hand those off to 700 independent farmers that range in size to do what they do best. Once sold, about 85 percent of the revenue goes back to the farmers. This is a business run on mutual dependence and shared success which leads to an understanding–that we are all better together.”

Berry-growing on mainland Mexico provides fruit year-round for consumers. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Without speaking to anyone, it’s hard to know what the workers really think or if the company’s philosophy is shared by everyone.

Still, it was fascinating to see all of the farms along the road as one drives around Lake Chapala, which is about 30 miles southeast of Guadalajara at an elevation of 5,000 feet.

The U.S.-based Wilson Center says, “Both blackberries and raspberries are typically grown under plastic tunnels; metal hoops are erected to support the plastic that covers rows of berries, with air entering at both ends and between the plastic and the ground. The canes could produce berries for a decade or more, but most growers replant after three to four harvests.

“Berries are labor intensive because the same plant must be repicked multiple times, including raspberries every day or every second day and blueberries twice a week, so that a field may be repicked 40 to 100 times during a season.”

Berries grow in hoop houses in the Lake Chapala area of Mexico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The Wilson Center, according to its website, was chartered by the U.S. Congress to provide “nonpartisan counsel and insights on global affairs to policymakers through deep research, impartial analysis, and independent scholarship.”

Driving north on the east side of the lake the ag land changes to row crops, with corn being the only obvious one. Then the hillsides transition to agave. Some were distinctly blue. It’s blue agave that is used for tequila. Mezcal can be created from other varietals.

With there being a shortage of agave in Mexico, it’s no wonder it’s being planted so many places.

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