Raise your hand if you like picking your own produce (my hand waves wildly in the air). Now raise your hand if you grow your own produce (my hand, with it's giant black thumb, remains sadly down). If you are anything like me, and you love to eat fresh fruits and veggies but can't grow them yourself because every time you try they inexplicably shrivel up and die (apparently plants need water...?!) then you need this book:
Pick it up in the entryway of any grocery store, as well as in many local businesses (The Bierstein had them last night - so they're pretty easy to find). Here's what you can find in this book:
Anyway! My family went to pick cherries this weekend, and I thought I'd share a bit about how easy it is to feed your family fresh, local produce for way cheaper than you can buy it at the store. It just takes a little bit of effort. :)
So the first thing I do when I get a hankering for something tasty is check the index in 'Locally Grown' to see which farms offer whatever I'm looking for. Then I hop on their website or call them to check prices as well as to ask them how the crop looks. Are the cherries ready yet? If not, when do they anticipate they'll be ready? Are they already picked over? If it's something I've never picked before, I'll ask for tips too. Do I need gloves? Will a stool make things easier?
Be aware: many of the farms are only open on weekends, or have funny hours.
Also, even if the website says that they are offering cherries (or whatever) right now, I would recommend calling, just to be sure. Farmers are understandably busy with many things besides keeping their websites super updated. Just be sure to do all your research before you head out. It would be super disappointing to load up the kids, get everyone super pumped about fresh fruit, and then discover that you missed the season or need a bowl or whatever.
We headed out to Detering Orchards this weekend to pick our cherries. Winco was selling cherries for $3.98/pound, and I was not very excited about paying that much, even though cherries are my absolute favorite. Detering was selling U-Pick cherries for $1.59/pound. Wowza. That is a huge difference. Granted, the lower price means you're using gas to get out to the farm, as well as time and effort on picking, but I feel like it's worth it. You're supporting a local farmer, you're getting your littles out in the dirt, they're learning a bit about where their food comes from, and you know exactly how it was grown. Also! Taste testing! Wahoo!
Detering offers a ton of U-Pick choices. Some of the produce is right near the actual farmstand. However, lots (such as apples, peaches, cherries, and way more) are located down the street. So here's how it works: you park in the main lot at the farmstand and go tell a worker what you'd like to pick. They'll take your debit or credit card as collateral and give you some buckets in return. You hop back in your car and drive to the crops. Then you pick! Last, you head back to the farmstand, park again, pay for what you picked, and check out whatever else you're interested in. I really recommend picking first, before you let the kiddos play on the playground there or poke around the farmstand. This may or may not be an endorsement for bribery. Ahem.
Okay, some specifics for both cherries and Detering's!
Oh, and some general U-Pick tips too.
Whew! Okay! Do you feel prepared to get out there and pick all of the season's bounty? Do it!!
30946 Wyatt Dr.
Harrisburg, OR 97446
Parking: Plenty of free parking
Cost: Free to visit the farm. Cost of produce depends on what you're picking.
Food: Detering's has a cute little snack shack where you can buy food and drinks. However, we've often taken our own food, and that's okay too.
Nursing/Resting Spots: There are picnic tables near the farmstand, but out in the fields you'll have to sit on the ground.
Bathrooms: There are bathrooms near the farmstand, but once you get out into the fields, I think you're out of luck.
Time Frame: We picked 8 pounds of cherries and spent a bit of time poking around the farmstand and playing on the playground. Counting the drive out to the farm and back, we spent 2 hours and 15 minutes of our Sunday afternoon picking our cherries. But if you visit a farm closer to town, you could pick way faster, or alternatively, you could take way more time checking stuff out.
Push or Wear: Wear - strollers will be a pain on the rough farm ground.