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U Pick Blueberries: Where It's At

Blueberries_11 I have about 100 favorite things to do in Portland in the summertime, and picking blueberries certainly tops the list.  A few weeks ago, when I grew weary of paying $3.99 for a pint of blueberries at our much-loved, but oftentimes overpriced grocer, I packed up the kids and met some friends out at Sauvie Island Farms.  Certainly not my favorite place to pick, but I was desperate to build up a good supply of berries to keep my voracious blueberry hounds at bay.  My boys were blowing the budget with their ravenous appetite for what is arguably the world's most perfect fruit.  Twenty miles from Portland, Sauvie Island is not a bad drive especially if you're planning to make a day out of it, and if you are planning to pick up other produce besides blueberries.  However, I find that the Sauvie Island Farm blueberry shrubs are stockier than at other locations, and that there was a lot of kneeling required.  Kneeling is a pain when you've got a 20 plus infant strapped to your back.  I also find that because of the popularity of Sauvie Island and being fairly late in the season, the crop was sparse.  Despite these conditions, we walked away with 17 pounds of blueberries combined between the two families.  Granted, I accompanied the most determined and focused berry picker who singly plucked the majority of the fruit from our outing.  Don't let the fact that she can be seen in the cool weather stomping around town in her totally hip red boots fool you. 

After my boys completely devoured our supply of blueberries in about a week, I knew I had to visit the old standby, Armstrong's Blueberries (in outer SE) to replenish our supply.  Armstrong's in located in the most unlikely of places, tucked away near some new developments on the edge of Portland.  What it lacks for pizazz, it makes up for in berry appeal!  In my opinion, the blueberries are much tastier, and the fruit easier to pick.  It's a small operation which appears to be a labor of love.  At $.80 a pound, it's about half the price of the Sauvie Island Farms and half the distance (even better yet).  Even in late August, there was plenty of fruit left to be picked.  They are not open every day of the week, and sometimes they remain closed to allow the trees to regrow.  You know you're also dealing with some honest folks when they subtract the weight of your container from the total cost of the berries.  Be sure to weigh your containers prior to picking.  Lastly, fill out a postcard and they will send it to you next year when the crop is ready.  Armstrong's Blueberries is located at: 17522 SE McKinley Rd.  Call ahead to see if they are open:  (503) 667-0348.  And if it's too late this year, there's always next year.  Where's your favorite place to pick?  Anything the urbanFamily needs to know before venturing out for a berry-fun (sorry the pun) time?

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When I started reading your post, I was thinking "too bad she doesn't know Armstrong's"! My family has been going there for years and loving it. Our freezer is packed full of this year's crop, ready to drop them into our oatmeal and waffles all year long.

Freezing tip: Put dry blueberries on cookie sheet to initially freeze before dropping them into freezer bags. The little blueberry marbles won't stick together.

Blueberry picking is always a summer highlight for us as well. However by the end of August blueberry season is definitely on the wane if not over, calling ahead to ensure that a farm is still open to picking is highly recommended.

One farm we have enjoyed late in the season is Nelson's Blueberry Farm outside of Parkdale - this is in the Hood River area - 541-352-7141.

Given the drive - an hour from Portland on I-84 - we always make a day of a trip to the Hood River area. We keep the latest "Fruit Loop" map in the car for these excursions. This free map lists farms, other sites, and celebrations in Hood River County. The map is available at stores in Hood River, visitor centers or on-line:

http://www.hoodriverfruitloop.com

Our standby stops on the Fruit Loop during the year:

1) Rasmussen Farms in the fall for pumkin picking, the corn maze, preserves, and the wacky decorated pumkin world:

http://www.rasmussenfarms.com

2) Packer Orchards and Cookie Stop anytime for delicious fresh-made cookies, pies, and more:

http://www.packerorchardsandbakery.com

3) Draper's Farms anytime for the only licensed non-pasturized apple cider. It is especially delicious when fresh made in the fall. We also enjoy cherry picking in the summer - 541-352-6625

4) Mt. Hood Organic Farms in the fall for organic apples and pears:

http://www.mthoodorganicfarms.com

5) Kiyokawa Orchards in the fall for the greatest selection of Asian pears anywhere! We also try to hit Fiesta Days in October at Kiyokawa each year:

http://www.mthoodfruit.com

6) Apple Valley County Store anytime for delicious pies, ice cream and shakes made from local berries. They also have a dizzingly selection of homemade preserves:

http://www.applevalleystore.com

Ok, this is getting way too long. There is much more - great hiking for instance - but I will end with saying that on a clear day it is hard to imagine a more beautiful place than the Hood River Valley. Peace.

a few weeks ago i went berry picking with my boys at Blueberry Hill Farm (13797 SW Roy Rogers Rd. in Sherwood). it's just off of Scholl's Ferry Rd. they were selling them at .99/lb. it may be late in the season now, but the boys really enjoyed it.
another great berry place, a little further out, is Rowell Brothers (24000 SW Schools Ferry Rd., Hillsboro). they didn't have much in the way of blueberries, but their raspberries, blackberries, loganberries, and marionberries were awesome. again, i made this a family outing and the kids ate and picked, and played hidenseek up and down the rows. the price was also .99/lb. sure beats the stores, and the taste was wonderful.

are any of these berry farms ORGANIC?

thanks in advance.
liz

not that i know of. a local organic farmer once told me it was rare to find an organic berry farm. if there are any, it might be listed on the pickyourown website: http://www.pickyourown.org/ORporteast.htm

There is an organic berry farm on Sauvie Island it is on the South end but the name escapes me. They have blueberries, rasberries, and blackberries. I think all are out of season there now, however.

I know that Nelson's doesn't use any pesticides but I don't believe they are "cerified organic."

A Beaverton mom friend of mine let me in on a GREAT place for blueberry picking (although their season is over now). It is Tualatin Valley Potato/Hoffman's at Tualatin Valley Potato 22307 SW Munger Lane Sherwood, OR 97140 Phone: (503)628-0772.

They are a bit off the beaten track, but at a dollar a pound they are cheap and it is never crowded.

A bit late with this comment, but Sweet Home Blues off of SW Grahams Ferry Rd. in Sherwood is a certified organic blueberry farm. Call (503) 682-1962 for more info.

For those seeking some late season picking...we went to Nelson's Blueberry Farm in Parkdale on Sunday (8/12) and came back with 7 pounds with little effort. Because of the elevation, Nelson's peaks in early August and picking is usually good through to the end of the month. And picking with a view of the mountains is quite nice.

While you are in the area, remember that Huckleberries are in season and a tasty Huckleberry milkshake ($4) can be enjoyed at the Apple Valley General Store.

Links:

Nelson's - http://www.hoodriverfruitloop.com/members/nelsons_blueberry_farm.html

Apple Valley -
http://www.applevalleystore.com/

Enjoy!

A word of caution to those who are concerned about pesticides on their berries. There are several "no spray" farms around town - the few that come to mind are:

*Bella on Sauvie's Island (they are certified organic)
*West Union Gardens in Hillsboro
*Blueberry Hollow bordering on Portland/Beaverton
*Bonny Slopes (I'm almost certain they don't spray but am waiting to hear back)

There was an ad in the Oregonian for a farm on Sauvie's Island that said it was no spray. When I called, they said the only spray the bushes and flowers but not the berries...insane! I think every farm that sprays does just the bushes and flowers.

So growers are realizing that people don't want their food sprayed full of chemicals and are hopping on the "no spray" lingo.

I'm thinking about calling the Oregon extention to find out if there are any guidelines for farms to follow in adverting their crops. I go out of my way to make sure we aren't picking sprayed berries so it was really frustrating to find this out.

The last post on this thread is from last summer. We were hoping to go berry picking today. Any recommendations?

I believe Krueger Farms on Sauvie Island is no spray and was cheaper last year than Bella Organic. I have heard that the season is just getting started, so thee are not tons of berries yet. And in reference to the OP, I am not sure Sauvie Island is 20 miles from Portland. More like 10 or less. I could be wrong, but it doesn't seem that far.

I've read and heard there are a lot of people looking for organic blueberries. When my husband retired he started an organic blueberry farm. He has agreed it's time to open for u-pick. We are very close to Farmington Gardens and if you call 503-628-0361 we'll give you directions and more info. It's a nice and clean farm with a variety of different blue berries.

On Friday I met my sister from Salem to pick ORGANIC blueberries outside Woodburn. We went to Schmidt family farm where the berries were 1.50 a pound. I've never picked blue berries before but found it to be fun and easy! In less than an hour I had 7.5 lbs! Then we put the berries in coolers and stopped at the outlet mall.
The directions on line were a little unclear & we had trouble finding the place. We thought the road was 3 miles off I5, but really it was 3 miles past Safeway - more like 6 miles off I5. The farm just has a small sign which says something about U pick berries, but does not mention the farm name like we were expecting.

Forster's Blueberry Hill farm in Silverton has tons of blueberries - and certified organic! Was just there last weekend (8/10/09). $.99 a pound.

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