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U-Pick Berry Farms Open With New Measures for a Trademark Oregon Summer Experience

By Geoff Nudelman

As the summer months arrive, Oregon's farms begin to bloom and showcase the bounty of the region.

In early summer, it's leafy greens, carrots, onions, and of course, berries.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oregon leads the nation in producing blackberries, black raspberries, boysenberries, and loganberries-not to mention marionberries, first developed in the Willamette Valley. Much of our state's berry production takes place in the Willamette Valley, where numerous local farms are open for U-pick experiences.

A close up of a woman's hands holding a basket of freshly picked blueverries

Although many farms are adopting heightened health and sanitation measures this season, the u-picking is still one of Oregon's best summer traditions; it's hard to beat a warm afternoon picking strawberries, blueberries, and marionberries from fields across the valley.

Christina Fordyce of Fordyce Farm in Salem says they'll assign their U-pick customers two rows apart instead of the usual neighboring rows to enforce social distancing guidelines, adding that the farm will have a handwashing station by the field for both staff and customers.

Other farms are taking a bulk approach to minimize contact. Kiger Island Blues, a blueberry farm south of Corvallis, plans to sell by the bucket, instead of weighing fruit after it's picked this year. I've sourced food-grade buckets that my customers can fill up for a flat rate of $10 and then take the bucket home with them, says farm owner Mindi Miller.

Some farms are expecting bigger crowds than ever this year as people look for safe, distant activities to enjoy the warm weather and look closer to home for alternative activities to regular vacations.

Harrisburg's Detering Orchards actually temporarily closed its patch as a surge of customers picked most of the available berries-a sign of popularity to come. Availability shouldn't be too much of a concern going forward, as farms expect ample fruit ready for picking as the heart of the season arrives.

However you choose to enjoy berries this year, it's worth checking farm websites, social media accounts, or even calling ahead, as conditions and opening hours may change to stay in compliance with local and state guidelines.

To have a fun and enjoyable U-Pick experience, keep the following in mind:

A couple pick berries in a berry patch with large green trees in the distance
  • Don't go if you are sick or feeling unwell at all.
  • Not all farms provide containers, so consider bringing your own (and rinse/sanitize them ahead of time, if possible).
  • Be mindful of your space near others and practice social distancing when possible
  • Wear a face covering while on farm property.
  • Don't eat the fruit while picking, and don't touch fruit that you don't plan on picking.
  • Payment options vary by farm. Be prepared with both cash and card.
  • Certain shaded farm areas that opened in past years may not open this year, so bring appropriate sun protection and clothing.

For more information, the Oregon Farm Bureau offers a list of U-pick farms in the Willamette Valley.

Your adventure begins with the official Willamette Valley Travel Guide. Request your complimentary printed guide or download a digital guide today.

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