Late season for blueberries in Eugene area

August 9, 2008 § 9 Comments

So last month when we went to pick cherries at Detering’s Orchard we had intended to Adkins Farms blueberry bucketsalso gather our season’s supply of blueberries. But the late warmth stunted the blueberry crop and when we inspected the bushes available for u-pick there were more green than blue berries. After a few busy weekends recently, we finally had a chance to head out and get our blueberries today.

I drive by River Bend Farms on Highway 58 frequently, and saw their sign advertising blueberries, but I wasn’t sure if they offered u-pick. So I called them this morning (phone: 520-2561) and Annette informed me that while they don’t offer u-pick berries, she could recommend a few nearby farms to check out: McKenzie River Organics, Adkins Farm, and Blondie’s Blooms.

McKenzie River Organics is near Leaburg (Past mile-post 23 on Highway 126, on right. Open 9-6. 896-3928), and that seemed to be a bit too far of a drive, so we opted A morning rain-soaked rose at Blondie's Blooms to check out Blondie’s or Adkins. We searched for a phone number for Adkins and couldn’t find a single reference to the farm, but we figured there would be signage along Seavey Loop (Note: I later found a classified ad in the Register Guard, and Adkins’ phone is 579-5431). Blondie’s is along Cloverdale Road between Pleasant Hill and Creswell. Because of a missed exit at 30th St. on I-5, we decided to first go ahead and check out Blondie’s, which Annette had reported had young berry bushes. We arrived at the nursery and blueberry farm and walked around and inspected the plants (mature nursery stock) and bushes, and even had the chance to listen to the fake predatory bird call. But after 26 minutes with no person in sight, we got in the car and drove over to Adkins (we later saw Blondie hocking her berries at the Saturday Farmer’s Market — so it’s possible that while she left the nursery in the hands of her family, they didn’t take their customer-service role seriously).

We got back in the car and headed west on 58 to Seavey Loop. We immediately saw a little white sign on a telephone pole advertising Adkins Farms blueberries, and we drove along until we saw the sign point to the right down a gravel road (coming from the other direction you would drive straight instead of following Seavey Loop road around a sharp right-hand turn). We drove slowly down the narrow road, passing a couple of philbert and apple orchards, and a small newly planted vineyard. At the end of the road is Adkins Farm, with raspberries, blueberries, and apples. ( 8-5 M-Sat. 579-5431). The farm is a Blueberries at Adkins Farmpicturesque spot, with neatly mowed grass under the apple trees, a picnic table, and straight long rows of mature blueberry bushes. We followed the signs to the u-pick parking near the shed and checked in and got our buckets for picking.

I was directed to take note of an interesting paper wasp nest that had formed on a birdhouse on an oak tree (they observed my camera), and then we were off to pick. The berries were $1.50/lb, and we filled our buckets a little over 3/4 full each and walked away after about forty minutes with $9.50 in berries. We will be rinsing them and freezing some for later and using the rest in some pancakes and perhaps, if boyfriend is lucky, a pie.Paper wasp nest on oak tree and birdhouse at Adkins Farm

The blueberries should remain available for picking at local farms through the end of August. Also, if you go to Adkins, bring a container to take home your fruit in — they just provide the buckets for picking and a scale to weigh them, but no carry-home containers.

Lane County U-pick Blueberry Resources:

As we were searching for a phone number for River Bend Farms we came across this handy list of Oregon roadside farm stands which is a great resource for these kinds of local food excursions!

The Oregon Blueberry Commission provides a listing of member farms in Lane County (and other counties), but it is incomplete. They also provide some interesting blueberry recipes.

Adkins Heritage Farm, Seavey Loop Road (follow the signs); 8-5 M-Sat. 579-5431

The Berry Patch Farm near Leaburg, no spray, open M-Sat, 8-6

McKenzie River Organics, near Leaburg (Past mile-post 23 on Highway 126, on right); open 9-6, 896-3928

Some good friends of mine recommend Green-Hill-Aire’s Organic u-pick operation that is close to Eugene (28794 Hillaire Street); 688-8276. I called, they are going to be open 8/16 and 8/17 from 8-6; but they’ve been closed for two weeks because they had been picked out. Call for availability.

Miller’s in Springfield on Camp Creek Road is also organic; Mon 8-7 Tues-Sat 8-5. 746-1760

Bear Fruit: Mon.-Sat., 9-5 Harrisburg – follow signs. 995-3445

Greenbrier Farm: 83524 Rattlesnake Rd. , Pleasant Hill

Cherry picking at Detering’s

July 17, 2008 § 4 Comments

Royal Anne Cherries at Detering Orchard, Harrisburg, OR

Royal Anne cherries at Detering Orchards

On Monday we decided that we had better get our annual u-pick cherry escapade done with as the following two weeks are pretty packed with other activities. We drove out on the scenic route through Coburg to Detering’s.

As I stepped out of the car, I noticed a familiar face of a fellow food-lover, Eugenia who wondered aloud how I may have recognized her (the photo on her blog helped).  We had a quick chat, and then my boyfriend and I grabbed our buckets and headed out to the glorious cherry trees.

We decided we really only needed to pick one bucket this year as we still had about five bags of cherries from last year (I can hardly believe it). We prefer the black sweet cherries to the more tart (but still sweet) Royal Anne’s that were also available. We made pretty quick work of the picking — not so quick that we didn’t get to enjoy consuming some of the deliciousness. But the 95 degree temperatures made the experience moderately less pleasant than a crisp morning might offer.

Black sweet cherries at Detering Orchards

Black sweet cherries at Detering Orchards

We drove home and got to the fun part that is cherry pitting. With our special pitting device we set up newspapers on the floor and furniture. We put a plastic garbage sack in a paper bag that we would pit the cherries over. Then we washed the fruit and began the manual labor of pitting each cherry, tossing the pit into the plastic bag and putting the fruit in a big stainless bowl. We divvied up the labor because a few years ago I committed to pitting about 20 lbs of cherries all by myself and I got tendonitis in my wrist from the repetitive motion — beware the hazards of cherry pitting!

Once the batch was pitted, we got out the zippered freezer bags and filled them up and put them in the freezer. When I have a delicious black-cherry smoothie in December, I’ll be glad I made the effort and happily forget about how sticky the entire experience was.

Detering’s is open from 8 – 5 daily, and if you don’t want to venture out to pick your own fruit, their farmstand offers the available fruit plus some additional products that aren’t currently ripe. The u-pick cherries and blueberries are available currently for $1.25/lb (I believe that’s a bit up from last year when I’m pretty sure the price was less than $1/lb). We picked up a large basket of peaches that were not from the orchard (although, they were about to begin picking the peaches near the blueberry patch). We attempted to u-pick some blueberries to round out our freezer stores, but the bushes weren’t very ripe yet so we determined that we’d have to wait a couple of weeks for a more prime time to pick. Visit their website for an update on what is available for u-pick throughout the summer and fall.

Any time you go to a u-pick orchard it is advisable to bring a cooler with ice or at least a box to put your fruit in. Not all farms provide containers for you to take home your fruit in, so it’s a good idea to come prepared.

Half of the shitakes sold in the US are from China

July 2, 2008 § Leave a comment

Did you know that half of the shitake mushrooms sold in the US are imported from China? I didn’t, not at least until I heard this story on NPR’s Morning Edition. The mushrooms sit in a cargo ship for two to three weeks before arriving at a wholesale market in San Francisco, CA, and then get distributed down the chain to restaurants and grocery stores.

In Eugene, we have the privilege of being able to buy our Shitakes at the Lane County Farmer’s Market every week. And when it comes to a product that often sells for $12/lb, maybe Shitakes that aren’t local are something you can forgo entirely.

The NPR story was inspired by the recent outbreak of Salmonella that was thought to be linked to tomatoes, but which now seems a bit harder to pin down. This national news has made more people try to be more aware of where their food comes from. The FDA website on the outbreak featured a list of “safe states” from which tomatoes that had not been linked to the outbreak could be procured. This information then led consumers to wonder how they could know what state the tomato on their store shelves had come from.

Locally, PC Market of Choice lists the local farm that they source their local produce from. I bought a bag of mixed lettuce last week ($6.99/lb) that PC buys from Hey Bayles! farm. As I have previously mentioned, Red Barn Natural Grocery in the Whiteaker also sells local produce when available. Sundance Natural Foods carries local produce as well, within a quick bike ride to most residents of South Eugene. I don’t make it into The Kiva that often, but for those who are frequently downtown, it also carries local products when available.

It’s great to be in a location with such a great variety of choices for local food!

Event Announcement:
I just found out about this yesterday, but tonight, I’ll be headed over to the Laurel Valley Educational Farm at the Northwest Youth Corps headquarters in Southeast Eugene (map). The folks from Slow Food Eugene are hosting a Potluck at 5 PM.

U-Pick strawberries near Eugene

June 30, 2008 § 2 Comments

So, I am a geek and I looked for how people found this blog during this past week… and many people usedU-pick strawberries the search terms for u-pick strawberries. Now granted, the last post was about fresh local strawberries. And I mentioned U-pick… but I was talking about Cherries! So people were led to the site, and I didn’t have the information they were looking for: so sorry!

To make up for it, here are the farms I know about that currently offer u-pick strawberries.

River Bend Farms west of Pleasant Hill on Highway 58 is open for picking (even on the 4th of July). Their Craigslist ad provides all the useful info: phone, hours, driving directions.

The farms below had classified ads in the Register Guard (If the farms ask where you heard about them, tell them it was the Register Guard — newspapers need all the support they can get these days):

Bear Fruit: Harrisburg (Coburg Rd.) U or We pick. Mon-Sat 9-5. Phone: 995-3445

Evonuk’s: Seavy Loop, U-pick strawberries (Open 8 AM until they’re all picked). 747-0065.

Harry’s Berries: Coburg. U-pick. Mon-Sat 9am till picked out. 344-0742

Hansen’s: Creswell. Picked & U-pick. Organically grown available Open 9 Mon-Sat. 895-3082

Herrick Farms: Walterville. U-pick and picked. 741-1046

Lee Farms: Junction City. Senior discount. No spray. Picked or U-pick. 556-1332

Lone Pine Farms: River Road, Junction City. 688-4389.

Happy to help the farmers spread the word, and help all those web searchers find what they’re looking for. Let me know if I left anyone out!

Photo by scol22 and posted at www.sxc.hu.

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