Editor’s note: Call businesses before you go to make sure they are open; follow updated travel restrictions for your region; and practice social distancing measures while you are out.
Nothing says summer in Oregon like fresh strawberry shortcake featuring intensely sweet, ruby red Hood strawberries or juicy, just-picked peaches in your favorite cobbler recipe. Head to one of Oregon’s many U-pick farms where you can practice social distancing while still reaping the satisfaction of picking your own produce. Here’s a handy guide to when Oregon’s fruits and vegetables are in season and where you can find the freshest produce around the state.
What produce is in season?
June: Strawberries, Raspberries, Cherries
This month, you’ll see the beginning of Oregon’s renown berry season with strawberries and raspberries ripening. In June, rhubarb is about halfway through its cycle and begging to be paired with those strawberries in a fresh-baked pie. Cherries — including Benton, Bing, Chelan, Rainier and Sweetheart — begin to appear in the orchards. Although cherries can be found throughout the Willamette Valley, the majority of Oregon’s crop grows in the shadow of Mt. Hood on hillsides overlooking the Columbia River. June is also time for harvesting broccoli and squash.
July: Blackberries, Blueberries, Marionberries
The berry bounty continues in force with the addition of blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries and Oregon’s own marionberries. Did you know that marionberries were first developed at Oregon State University in conjunction with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and released to the world in 1956? Oregonians have gone wild for them ever since. More tree fruits come ripe in July, as well: apricots, nectarines and peaches. Also look for beets, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, melons and tomatoes.
August: Apples, Pears, Plums
Toward the end of the summer, attention turns to apples, pears and plums. Oregon ranks second in the nation for pear production, with the majority of the fruit harvested in the Mid-Columbia and Rogue Valleys. Bartlett pears are typically the first variety to mature, followed by winter varieties through the month of October. Also be on the lookout for fresh-picked peppers and ears of sweet corn.
Where to pick?
While it is Oregon’s largest urban area, Portland is surrounded by U-pick farms in all directions including Douglas Farm (apples, asian pears, eggplant, peaches and pears) to the north on Sauvie Island, Powder Blue Berry Farm (blueberries) to the east in Gresham, Sherwood Orchards (apples, cherries, peaches, pears and plums) to the south in Sherwood and Bays Family Farm (apples, nectarines, peaches and plums) to the west in Banks.
Mt. Hood and the Columbia Gorge
You’ve got dozens of U-pick cherry options including those farms along the East Gorge Food Trail: Columbia View Orchards, Evans Fruit Company (peaches, too), Keylock Orchard, Lopez Farm, Root Orchards and Rosedale Fruit Farm — all in and around Mosier. Further west, enjoy the mountain views while picking at Draper Girls Country Farm (apples, cherries, peaches and pears) and Mt. View Orchards (apples, cherries, peaches and pears) — both in Mt. Hood.
There are scores of U-pick farms including these certified organic ones: AJR Farms (blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries and marionberries) in Jefferson, Berkey’s Blueberries in Lebanon, Fairfield Farm (strawberries) in Corvallis and The Blue Nickol (blueberries) in McMinnville.
Berry lovers can head to K & K Blueberries in Hermiston, and Bluewind Berry Farm and Lampson Blueberries in Milton-Freewater for U-pick options. At Thomas Orchards in Kimberly, you have a wide array of U-pick produce: apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, pears and plums.
If you’re looking for a lovely photo op, check out Cascade Lavender in Madras, where the purple fields of English and French lavender are framed by snow-capped mountains. You can pick your own lavender, starting in mid-June. All proceeds benefit the Madras Women’s Shelter.
You’ll find countless opportunities for picking fresh produce with your own hands. In the Umpqua Valley, look for U-pick strawberries at The Berry Patch in Roseburg; for blueberries, head to Happy Family Farm in Myrtle Point, Haven Riverside Blueberry Farms in Umpqua and Estill Farms in Drain and Elkton. At Norm Lehne Garden and Orchards in Roseburg and Brosi’s Sugartree Farms in Winston, you can pick a wide variety of produce throughout the summer — from tree fruits to tomatoes and more. In the Rogue Valley, most of the focus is on U-pick tree fruits: Leonard Orchard (apples) in Medford, Sugar Plum Acres (peaches) in Talent, Valley View Orchard (apples and peaches) in Ashland and Vaughan Farm and Orchard (berries and pears) in Central Point.
For U-pick blueberries, bring your buckets to Blueberries and Blooms in Bay City on the North Coast or Clear Lake Blueberry Farm in Florence on the Central Coast. Along the South Coast, stop at Happy Family Farm in Myrtle Point, Hazen’s Riverside Blueberry Farm in Coquille, Jensen Blueberries in Langlois, and Twin Creek Ranch and Valentine Blueberries in Bandon. For strawberries, head to Valley Flora in Langlois.
What to Expect at U-Pick Farms During COVID-19
With COVID-19 outbreak top of mind, visitors should expect some changes in the upcoming U-pick season. Expect farms to have extra sanitation and new guidelines in place. Social distancing may be enforced with designated rows or even reservations. You will be asked not to touch produce that you will not pick, nor should you eat fruit while picking. For more guidance, check out these tips from the OSU Extension Service.