The Experience: Glimpses of sun and the rapidly waning school year are getting locals riled up for summer. What better way to officially ring in the season than to pick a flat of ripe, sun-kissed berries and make jam? Or you might eat most of them on the way home and enjoy the last morsels in a pie or with a dollop of whipped cream. Yum. Kids love traipsing through the fields to find ripe berries, and somehow what you could buy at the store or farmer’s market is even sweeter when you’ve spent a summer day harvesting them yourself.
What to pick when
Local strawberries have been scarce so far – the colder spring has pushed the season out a little – but area farms are predicting the sweet red morsels will be ready as early as mid-June. And that’s just the beginning of the berry splendor around town.
According to a calendar published by Tri-County Produce, a group of direct-to-the-public area farms, you can fill your pails with boysenberries and raspberries in late June or July, cherries and marionberries in July, and blueberries and blackberries from late July to September. Since actual harvest times fluctuate, always call before you go to make sure what you want is available.
Where to go
The greater Portland area boasts a bounty of u-pick farms within an hour’s drive. We like no-spray or organic produce and there are plenty of choices. Some favorites are:
* West Union Gardens – Multiple varieties of berries, starting with raspberries in late June or early July. Nice picnic area under shady trees. Not organic, but many crops aren’t sprayed. Call for opening date; westuniongardens.com.
* Smith BerryBarn – No-spray berries throughout the summer and a Berry Festival on July 4th. Open now, call for berry schedule; smithberrybarn.com.
East Portland and Clackamas County
* Morning Shade Farm, Canby – U-pick berries are grown with only organic or naturally derived treatments. Call for berry schedule; 503-651-2622.
* Thompson Farms, Boring – No-spray berries and other produce 1 mile north of Hwy 212. Call for berry schedule; 503-667-9138.
* Farmer John’s Produce, McMinneville – U-pick berries and other produce, organically produced but not yet designated organic. Father’s Day strawberry activities. Call for berry schedule; farmerjohnsproduce.com.
* Bella Organic – 100 acres of organic berries, herbs and other produce, including pumpkins and a maze in fall. Opens June 18. Bellaorganic.com.
* Kruger’s Farm Market – 150 acres of produce including u-pick berries and a Berry Jam June 18th and 19th. Call for growing practices. Open now but call for berry schedule; krugersfarmmarket.com.
Hood River: U-pick farms here tend toward apples, pears and cherries. A favorite is Hood River U-Pick Cherries, with almost-certified organic cherries that start in late June or early July. Call for exact dates; hoodriverupickcherries.com.
Inside information: Always call ahead, as hours may vary and u-pick crops may be closed for days at a time for ripening. Most farms welcome kids but not pets; always call ahead if you want to bring your dog. Bring water and snacks, sunscreen and hats, plus containers. Some farms provide them, but it’s better to be on the safe side in case they run low. Cash and checks are a good idea too as not all farms take debit cards. And be sure to respect the grounds and the rules – remember, these farms are often also someone’s home.
The 411: For a listing of u-pick farms in Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas counties, visit tricountyfarm.org. You’ll find a seasonal calendar and can search by location, produce type or description. For farms in and beyond those counties, try pickyourown.org/OR. Not all farms or offerings are u-pick so be sure to ask when you call.
June 7th, 2011 | Category: Family Fun Reviews