August 2nd, 2019

Summer Pick-Your-Own Sweetness

Where I grew up, in suburban Maryland, a trip to pick strawberries or apples was a full-day excursion. It required packing a lunch and loading the car with water bottles and bug spray. Now, I’m spoiled. In McMinnville I can dash to a farm in 15 minutes, pick two quarts of berries, and be on my way to cobbler town within an hour.  Berry picking is something I can do for fun, a chance to get outside, and because it’s basically the most inexpensive way to take advantage of the Willamette Valley’s incomparable fruit. Plus, there is no more heady aroma than the sweet perfume of sun-warmed marionberries in this world.

While visiting McMinnville, consider checking out one of several pick-your-own farms in the area. You don’t have to go crazy or spend all day picking enough fruit to freeze, make jam, or festoon a mountain of shortcake. Instead, just pick a quart or two (bring a tupperware and have it weighed before you start picking) to enjoy on your travels, to take home in a cooler as an edible souvenir. If you’re like me, they might not make it that far.

Bernards Farm

18755 OR-18 McMinnville 503-472-4933 Bernards Farm

With a market housed in a charming white barn, Bernards is a must visit whether or not you’re up for picking some strawberries or tomatoes. The full-service farm market is a great place to pick up on locally grown vegetables, pick-your-own flowers, and their own hazelnuts and walnuts.

Farmer John’s Produce & Nursery

Farmer John’s, a local favorite, is only a few minutes drive from downtown McMinnville.

15000 OR-18 McMinnville 503-474-3514 Farmer John’s Produce & Nursery

Milkshakes! Smoothies! Shortcake! You’ll know you’ve spotted Farmer John’s when you see these signs of temptation. Here you’ll find u-pick strawberries and blueberries and u-cut zinnias. It’s also a nice stop for souvenirs: soap, honey, or a bouquet of locally grown peonies. And yes, the milkshakes made with their own fruit are a worthy post-picking treat.

Hildebrandt Cherry Orchards

18905 SE Wallace Road Dayton 503-871-9411 Hildebrandt Cherry Orchards

Early July brings a riot of red to Hildebrandt Cherry Orchards in Dayton. Be sure to try the Rainier cherries, golden with a pink blush. They’re mildly sweet with a delicate flavor.

Perryhill Farm

5775 Perrydale Road Dallas 503-623-4539 Farm

A short drive south of McMinnville, Perryhill is a family-run fruit farm in the rolling hills near Dallas. Mid-summer, it’s a great place to go for variety including raspberries, blueberries, peaches, cherries, and apples.

The Blue Nickol

158 NE Atlantic Street McMinnville 971-241-6541 The Blue Nickol

Less a farm and more a very ambitious garden, The Blue Nickol is the pick-your-own opportunity closest to downtown McMinnville, nearby Joe Dancer Park. Grab a coffee at Flag & Wire and you’ll be amply fueled to pick some blueberries and marionberries.

Emily Teel is McMinnville resident and Food & Drink Editor at the Statesman Journal.