Last week, we found out there used to be a chicken ranch, a driving range and a thriving strawberry farm, in the area of Boulder Avenue and Greenspot Road, in Highland.
The strawberry farm was called The Highland Harvest Barn. It was operated by Matt Tyler’s father, Stephen (no relation to the rock star) and his uncle, Dave Eady, along with his siblings and cousins.
Today, near where the farm used to be, sits Staples, In-N-Out Burger, Lowe’s Home Improvement and other stores in what is now a small shopping center.
Tyler was a young lad when the Tyler’s started up the farm circa 1997.
As a father and businessman, Tyler reflects how life on the farm left an indelible mark on his life and future.
“It was fun working on the farm, as a child,” said Tyler.
“We would be out there on very hot summer days with the pickers.
“The seasonal pickers were nationals from Mexico.
“The pickers did the brunt of the work, but we were working right alongside them, standing, picking and planting. To me it was hard work but fun.”
The Tylers had several tractors on the farm that assisted in the planting operation.
One tractor was used to disc the land, churning the soil, to get it ready for planting.
Another tractor would forge the row and make the mounds for the strawberries.
There was another tractor that had two triangular shaped metal containers, parallel to each other. This tractor was for fertilizer.
The tractor had a rectangular metal grate protruding forward from each the triangular vats.
Tyler believes that the operator would pour the fertilizer in each vat. Then he would drive along the rows dispensing the fertilizer.
“My dad would tell people that after a hard day’s work, the kids would get a milk shake.”
The Tylers also had a fruit stand, to sell produce from the farm to the visitors and folks of Highland.
“My mom and aunt would run the fruit stand,” said Tyler. “We’d sell Maui onions. These were delicious and sweet. The fruit stand also carried Camarosa strawberries, black eyed peas and tomatoes to sell.
“We’d also pull in produce from other areas, but the majority of what we sold was grown from our farm.”
Tyler realized that his day in and day out experiences on the farm helped him become the businessman that he is today.
“I was able to see the selling side, where my dad and Uncle Dave would have business exchanges with the people from schools and local businesses,” said Tyler.
Tyler would also sell boxes of candy, as a side job to help the family.
“Selling candy and watching my dad and uncle, gave me an entrepreneurial experience that lead me to work the business side,” said Tyler. “I was shy and embarrassed at the time, but I saw how things were done. It was nice. Working and learning how to operate a farm inspired me to do what I do now.”
Tyler grew up to be an accountant.
If you know anything about the history of Highland, I would be interested in hearing from you. You can reach me at (909) 816-0318.