Pigs and goats and cows and … bikes! Central Oregon puts its own spin on agritourism with the Crooked River Open Pastures (CROP) series in and around the town of Prineville, just 35 miles north of Bend.
Organized by the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance, the Saturday tours include rotating farmers markets at local farms and ranches, the chance to meet the farmer and various family-friendly activities. “For visitors it’s a great opportunity to learn about where their food comes from,” says Seth Crawford, a former Crook County commissioner. “That’s why I take my daughters. I want them to know.”
CROP events run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and are free of charge. This year the fun runs April 29 through September 30, culminating with a day at Auntie Beans, a diversified vegetable and beef farm. Past special guests include Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, chronicled in Michael Pollan’s best-selling book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”
Prineville’s bike shop, Good Bike Company, will host two-wheeled tours along the CROP stops. Visitors can also book guided bike tours of the area on other days. Good Bike owner James Good says road bikers will find authentic, down-to-earth people in a beautiful area. “There is exceptional road riding and exceptional farms and ranches producing some the of the best cheeses and meats and vegetables that you can find,” Good says.
On June 10, visitors can meet a professional forester and have a “timber-to-table” experience at Wine Down Ranch. The tour on July 8 travels to Bluestone Gardens, which offers herbs, plants, goats milk and landscape design services. On September 16, Dancing Cow Farms and Prineville Lavender host, giving people the chance to view heritage and pasture-raised cows, sheep and poultry, and to find serenity in a lavender field.
CROP tour enthusiasts can pick up a passport and collect stamps along the way for a yet to be determined prize. For more information, go to the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance’s website.