If visions of juicy cherries, sweet corn, plump peaches, and crunchy peppers are dancing in your head, you will love Gilroy’s popular roadside produce stands. Add to that some delicious local honey, spicy seasonings, crunchy nuts, flavored popcorn (including garlic, of course), tasty sauces and salsa, and even garlic ice cream—and you’ll want to grab a little bit of everything!
Most fruit stands in Gilroy are open from late spring through early fall, with inventory varying seasonally. Cherries typically come first in late spring, followed closely by strawberries and stone fruits. In summer you’ll find corn, tomatoes, garlic, beans, and peppers; by late summer and fall, there will be squashes and pumpkins.
Continuing Gilroy’s Agricultural Legacy
Gilroy’s past is rooted (pardon the pun) in agriculture. The city has been known as the Hay and Grain Capital (1850-1860), the Fruit & Nut Capital (1880-1900), the Prune Capital (1920-1970), and of course the Garlic Capital of the World (since 1980). As part of the Santa Clara Valley, nicknamed the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” for its rich and fertile soil, much of Gilroy was at one time filled with orchards, grapevines, and fields of row crops.
A panel of Gilroy’s agricultural history located downtown on the Paseo (a walkway with panels of the city’s history)
Though Gilroy has grown since those early days, the city is still surrounded by acres of farmland. The roadside stands in all directions supply fresh local and regional produce, and often sit right on the land where that produce was grown. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Merry Cherry Fruit Stand
Location: On Leavesley Road, just past Gilroy Premium Outlets (behind McDonald’s)
A long-time fixture in Gilroy, the cheery Merry Cherry Fruit Stand is owned by the Tognetti family and run by sisters Andrea and Nancy. They offer fresh-picked cherries from their own orchards as well as other seasonal produce, local honey, seasonings, sauces, and garlic products—even garlic ice cream and popcorn. The most popular items with locals are their cherries and corn—said to be super sweet!
Andrea and Nancy’s father and grandfather began farming over 50 years ago, forming B&T Farms, with acres of farmland and orchards all around Gilroy.
Ralph’s Cherry Hut
Location: On northbound Highway 101 (south of town)
About 3 miles south of Gilroy, on northbound Highway 101, stands Ralph’s Cherry Hut. This stand and the acres of cherry orchards behind it belong to the Santos family.
Named after the first of three generations bearing the name Ralph, the family has been farming cherry orchards in the area for over 80 years.
A popular spot for out-of-town vacationers, many have been pulling off the freeway here to buy fresh produce for over 30 years. Be sure to stop by in late spring for cherries; you can also find other produce and goodies here throughout the summer.
Along 101 south of Gilroy, there are several other cherry and produce stands. Check out a bunch!
Location: On Fitzgerald Avenue, west of Highway 101 (northwest of town)
To the north of Gilroy is a special place called LJB Farms. Just a mile off Highway 101 from the Masten Ave. exit, this is a local farm with a produce store. LJB Farms was established in 1917 by the Bonino family and is still run by the fourth generation of family members today.
The Boninos also have many acres of farmland around the area, where they grow fruits, vegetables, and pumpkins. They specialize in selling naturally vine-ripened, hand-picked produce. Their well-known red barn has been modified over the years to become the quaint store it is today.
LJB Farms sells their own produce, and they also support other local farmers and vendors by selling their produce and products. You’ll find salami, dried fruits, nuts, and candy, jams, jellies, honey, and locally-made sauces and seasonings.
Specialty items include delicious pies from Gizdich Ranch (a popular local ranch in nearby Watsonville) and a whole shelf of tasty baked goods from Greenlee’s Bakery (based in San Jose), including their popular heavenly cinnamon bread.
The barn also has a section set up as a little store that showcases unique items that make great gifts, including products from local vendors. Here you’ll find flour sack towels with funny sayings, seasonal décor, and handmade candles and soaps.
LJB Farms hosts fun vendor showcases, events and boutiques, often around the holidays. In the fall, they have a popular pumpkin patch that grows bigger each year, with giant inflatables, photo ops, and a huge variety of pumpkins in all kinds of colors, shapes, and sizes—all at very reasonable prices! You can purchase produce and gifts year-round at LJB Farms.
Location: On Highway 152/Pacheco Pass (east of town)
The stretch of Highway 152 East that runs in and out of Gilroy should be called “Produce Alley” for the numerous fruit stands that line both sides of the road.
The only difficulty will be in choosing which one to stop at. Or trying not to stop at all of them! Just be mindful of traffic when pulling off the road or onto the road—it can be very busy during commute hours and on weekends.
Gilroy’s produce stands are destinations of their own. No matter which stand you decide to visit, you’ll find the freshest produce and tastiest goodies here in Gilroy. Grab some on your way in or out of town on your next visit to our “community with a spice for life.”
More to Explore in Gilroy
Speaking of produce, you can take a ride in a garlic bulb, artichoke, strawberry, or banana at our family-friendly, horticulture-themed amusement park Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park.
You can also visit award-winning, friendly wineries along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail. And stay fueled up for more adventures with our variety of restaurants, where you can try a Garlic Festival dish or some authentic Mexican food. Take time for some fun shopping at the Gilroy Premium Outlets, especially if you’re visiting the Merry Cherry Fruit Stand nearby.
Be sure to book your stay at one of our comfortable, affordable hotels and choose from many fun things to do on your visit to Gilroy and stop by our California Welcome Center Gilroy conveniently located in the Gilroy Premium Outlets for free brochures and visitors guides and some fun souvenirs.