Tanaka Farms Provides Generous Community Lift and Service


Courtesy of Joni Newman

Tanaka Farms has helped upwards of 500 affected families every week with the assistance of local farms, non-profits, volunteers and donations.

Tanaka Farms, located on University Drive, has managed to flourish by giving back to the Irvine community for 50 years, even under misfortune. Due to the current circumstances, lower income families are struggling to acquire food due to high unemployment, and Tanaka Farms has made an effort to give back to a community in need. 

Tanaka Farms’ once bustling fields of strawberry picking and flower garden exploration have come to a temporary end. They have adapted to new regulations by cancelling upcoming farm tours, special events and classes. 

“We have changed our business model completely. Farmer [Glenn] Tanaka, Kenny Tanaka and the rest of the team took quick action to build a Drive-Thru Produce Market Stand and online ordering system in order to comply with local and CDC guidelines,” marketing and social media representative Joni Newman said. 

Even though Tanaka Farms and its volunteers have always given back to the community through donations and community service, they have continued to donate and now curate packages to pre-registered families enduring difficult times. 

“Tanaka Farms’ Helping Farms Feed Families (501c3), along with OCO’s Walk the Farm (501c3), have partnered with other local farmers and food producers who are also struggling right now to purchase food and package it up to distribute to those who need it,” Newman said.

“Each Community Care Package includes a variety of fresh produce, onions, potatoes, a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk.”

To provide opportunities for families to safely spend time outside, strawberry picking has opened up to people who are willing to follow certain sanitary and physical distancing guidelines. (Courtesy of Joni Newman)

This hard work and kindness spreads to families with a compromised income and people who lack access to healthy, farm-fresh food, all while promoting less waste, supporting local farmers and restaurants with demands for supplies. 

“We receive emails, messages and comments daily from people who appreciate the food we are donating,” Newman said. “For many, they cannot leave the house due to being immunocompromised, elderly. Many are frontline workers with spouses who have been laid-off. Many are households who all have been furloughed or laid off. It’s a very difficult time for these folks, and we are happy to help them out. They are very grateful for the support.”

For Tanaka Farms, it has never been about money or material satisfaction, but always about generously sharing their talents and resources with others in need. 

“We will always donate food to local food banks, host fundraisers for nonprofits and provide much needed education about farming and growing food to students and the general public,” Newman said. “Shop at our Drive-Thru Market Stand! Come out and pick strawberries! When we fully re-open, come out for a tour!”