Fritz Koontz, longtime partner in Beach Street Farms, has left to launch a new business, Santa Cruz Berry Farming Co.

Koontz co-founded Beach Street 16 years ago with fellow partners Edward Ortega and Steve Rodoni. Both strawberry companies are based in Watsonville, Calif.

Santa Cruz Berry Farming will specialize in organic but will also grow conventional strawberries, according to a news release.

Partner leaves Beach Street Farms
Partner leaves Beach Street Farms


Koontz, who has also been a partner in Kanaka Peak for 10 years with researcher Beth Crandall, plans to spend more time on that business as well.

“(I) was unable to give the program the attention that I wanted to,” Koontz said in the release. “We will work with growers and customers on the development of new, more flavorful varieties.”

Koontz was also Beach Street’s marketing director. He left in the third week of January, company spokeswoman Stephanie Hilton said.

The question of a successor is up in the air, she said, but operations remain on track.

“Beach Street is in the throes of determining how it’s going to restructure and what it will look like for the upcoming year,” Hilton said. “The strawberry season is upon us. They’ll move forward and be a viable part of the 2011 strawberry season.”

“Beach Street’s 2011 plans are in place, and we have already begun supplying customers with high quality strawberries from Southern California,” Rodoni said in a news release.