Opportunities abound for everyone to experience agriculture in Oregon, ranging from wineries and breweries to farmers markets and farm tours, U-pick locations, pumpkin patches and farm-to-fork gatherings.
“Oregon has always been one of the most progressive states, and I think that’s a big reason we’re seeing enormous growth in agritourism,” says Geoff Horning, executive director of the Agri-Business Council of Oregon. “It started with an explosion of farmers markets popping up in communities throughout Oregon, and the next natural step is to visit the farm. It’s a very soulful experience being on the farm, and Oregonians from the city are craving a return to the basic roots.”
Tour The Loop
One of the most popular agritourism sites in Oregon, the Hood River County Fruit Loop is located just an hour from Portland. With amazing views of Mt. Hood, the 35-mile drive takes visitors on a tour of the region’s orchards, forests and farmlands, where they can stop at sites including wineries, lavender fields, chestnut and alpaca farms, and U-pick sites. Oregon’s delicious, fresh produce is featured at the farms and markets, including cherries, pears, peaches and apples. The self-guided tour is dotted with other fun attractions, as well as great places to eat and stay. For more information on the Fruit Loop, visit hoodriverfruitloop.com.
At E.Z. Orchards Farm Market in Salem, hungry visitors can sample fresh summer produce, get a taste of local cuisine at a farm-to- fork dinner or indulge in a seasonal shortcake treat, topped with sweet berries or peaches.
John Zielinski, one of the fourth- generation owners of the farm, says agritourism venues like the market encourage interaction between farmers and their urban neighbors, helping people better understand where their food comes from.
“It’s also a good business opportunity, allowing farmers to diversify,” he says.
The family-owned farm hosts educational tours and throws an annual HarvestFest in October.
“It’s really important to educate students, and I think it’s our responsibility to close the urban- rural divide,” Zielinski says. “We have approximately 7,000 students visit every fall.”
From Tours To Trees
Families can kick off the holiday season at one of many U-cut farms including Parson Landing Christmas Tree Farm in Oregon City with a crackling fire, festive Christmas music and complimentary hot cocoa before trekking into the fields to select and cut the perfect Christmas tree.
“Agritourism is a wonderful opportunity for people to understand and appreciate the farms that are a source of their agricultural products,” says owner Jaimee Parson.
Founded in 2009, the Christmas tree farm focuses on its U-cut business, allowing customers left: E.Z. Orchards and Parson Landing Christmas Tree Farm both invite visitors to their farms. to choose and cut their own trees. “Our goal is to provide a memorable and fun experience to all of our customers, and become a part of their yearly tradition,” Parson says. “We love interacting with everyone that comes to our farm to appreciate the beauty of the land and get down and dirty cutting their own tree.”
Visitors also enjoy Parson’s majestic tree of light.
The farm strings more than 20,000 twinkling lights on a 150-year-old oak tree, illuminating the night. These farms are just the beginning of Oregon’s diverse and fun educational agritourism scene, offering lessons in farm life and unique insights into the agriculture industry