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Farm-to-Table Experiences in the Willamette Valley

By Matt Wastradowski

Here in the Willamette Valley, “farm-to-table” isn’t just an expression; for family farmers across the region, it’s a way of life. That means growing more than 170 crops all year long—and sharing fresh, seasonal bounty at farmers markets, locally minded eateries, and through experiences that visitors can’t enjoy anywhere else.

Dozens of eateries use fresh, Willamette Valley-grown ingredients in their ever-changing menus—from fast-casual food carts to upscale restaurants. We couldn’t begin to list them all, but a few stand out for making that emphasis on “local” the heart of their offerings. Here’s a sample to whet your appetite:

When is a hotel restaurant not JUST a hotel restaurant? JORY is the on-site eatery at The Allison Inn & Spa, dishing Pacific Northwest-inspired fare crafted from fresh ingredients. An on-site garden grows seasonal vegetables, while nearby purveyors provide produce, baked goods, cheese, and even Willamette Valley-grown olive oil.

The Joel Palmer House Restaurant: Residing in a historic home in downtown Dayton, The Joel Palmer House Restaurant takes full advantage of its location in the heart of Oregon Wine Country by spotlighting locally harvested mushrooms and truffles, serving more than 400 Oregon wines, and routinely changing its menu to reflect what’s fresh and in-season.

Hosting regular classes, winemaker dinners, and other fun events, The Kitchen at Middleground Farms sits in a refurbished barn, sources many ingredients from an on-site vegetable garden, gets dairy products from its own hens and herd of goats, and works with nearby farmers to round out the rest of its eclectic menus. See why the restaurant makes an exciting stop along a foodie tour of the Willamette Valley.

The offerings at Our Table Cooperative are seemingly limited only by your imagination; depending on your visit, the fun may include summertime U-pick blueberries, a farm store stocked with regional produce, specialty meals made with farm-grown ingredients, a pumpkin patch in fall, and even educational opportunities for a behind-the-scenes look at life on the farm.

Farm-to-Table Restaurants
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Does your hotel room come with a kitchenette? Are you cooking back at the campsite? Or are you picking up a few provisions for back at home? Whatever the case, you’ll find plenty of markets across the Willamette Valley selling local fare. Here’s a sampling:

Source Farms

The regenerative-minded collaboration between Willamette Valley farms is best experienced via a convenient market. The Farm Stand from Source Farms sells seasonal produce, fresh meats, sustainable seafood, and other specialty goods—like raw honey, fresh pasta, and local dairy items.

Farm stands and farmers markets

Across the Willamette Valley, family-run farms sell their output at dozens of farm stands and farmers markets—with markets open all 12 months of the year. No two weeks are ever alike, with farmers selling freshly harvested crops, meats, cheeses, and other items throughout the year. For more on what to expect, see when our best-loved crops are in season.

Flying Bee Ranch

Just outside Salem, Flying Bee Ranch offers raw honey in its farm store—surrounded by the hives from which the honey was produced. Choose among more than a dozen varieties (including agave nectar honey, cranberry honey, and orange blossom honey), and enjoy free tastings all year long.

Hundreds of farms dot the Willamette Valley, and several offer tours, festivals, and engaging experiences that help visitors better understand, appreciate, and connect with our unique agricultural heritage. Here are a few favorites to help you get started:

Just outside Woodburn, Bauman's Farm & Garden has been a regional mainstay since 1895. All year long, visitors can purchase fresh produce, pick up snacks at an on-site bakery, peruse the Bauman's garden center, and more. Every autumn, the Bauman's Harvest Festival thrills families with hayrides, a massive pumpkin patch, seasonal dishes (such as apple cider donuts), and other fun attractions.

Enjoy an all-encompassing look at the region's agricultural output at Gathering Together Farm, which grows a wide range of organic produce just outside Philomath. Gathering Together hosts an on-site restaurant (mere feet from where many of its ingredients were harvested) and a friendly market where visitors can purchase farm-grown produce and fresh-baked pastries. For a look at other farms and fresh food in the area, check out the Mid-Willamette Valley Food Trail.

Sure, you can try a variety of cheeses at the sustainably minded TMK Creamery. But the Canby creamery takes its offering a step further by crafting vodka from leftover whey, offering self-guided tours of its bustling farm, and selling hearty fare (including cheese curds, milkshakes, and other sweet treats).

No longer does olive oil belong to the sun-kissed hillsides of Spain, Italy, or Greece. Set amid an olive grove just outside of Dayton, Durant at Red Ridge Farms has been growing its own olive trees and milling its own olive oil since 2008—one of the few such producers in the Pacific Northwest. Attractions at the working farm include a fully stocked farm store (where you can purchase bottles of Durant’s olive oil), wine tasting room, overnight stays, and spacious nursery.

Farm to Table: Farm Tours and Experiences
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In all, the Willamette Valley is home to seven self-guided farm loops and food trails.

At their core, these are self-guided tours of a dozen or more local businesses that share the bounty of the Willamette Valley—including farms that host markets and offer tours, restaurants dishing locally sourced fare, wineries pouring our world-famous varietals, and even overnight stays if you can’t fit all your favorite stops into one day.

The trails are self-guided so  it’s up to you how you piece together a tour of each outing—limited only by your appetite and how much time you have to spare. Start planning your epic getaway with our look at the farm loops and food trails of 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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