When it comes to summer’s local produce, surely the more-is-better philosophy wins. If you have a sweet tooth for local fruits and berries, or you get a little nerdy about specific varietals, or (like me) lack self-control when it comes to summer fruit consumption, we’ve got you in mind. Locally grown fruits and berries are among the area’s most prized horticultural gems, and going directly to the source at U-Pick farms and orchards can be a great way to combine adventure, the urge to DIY and the pride of accomplishment that comes from an awareness of the process that goes into harvesting and preparing our own food.
In our July 2014 issue, we suggested a fruit-filled road trip to the Hood River Valley in Oregon to take full advantage of the Hood River “Fruit Loop” Cherry Celebration. The Fruit Loop is a sublime summertime spot where you can stock up on Pacific Northwest cherries, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and marionberries (the latter a local, hybrid blackberry developed by Oregon State University and named after Marion County, Oregon). But, if Hood River is too far, or if you go and still want more, have we got one whale of a list for you: Browse our lineup of local U-Pick farms and—if your back doesn’t like the thought of bending over a row of berries but your stomach still craves them—upcoming berry festivals galore to satisfy all your fruity fixes. They’re all happening this summer around Washington state.
Remlinger Farms (Carnation): Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
Harvold Berry Farm (Carnation): Raspberries and strawberries; no website, call to check on availability before you go (425.333.4185)
Bybeen-Nims Farms (North Bend): Blueberries
Canter-Berry Farms (Auburn): Blueberries
Blue Dot Farm (Enumclaw): Blueberries
Biringer Farm (Arlington): Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries
Broers Farms, Inc (Monroe): Certified organic blackberries, marionberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
Raising Cane Ranch (Snohomish): Certified organic raspberries
East of the Cascades
Stutzman Ranch (Wenatchee): Cherries, white nectarines, peaches, pears, apples, seedless table grapes
Bill’s Berry Farm (Grandview): Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, nectarines
FRUIT & BERRY FESTIVALS
7/12-13 Rhubarb Days (Sumner): The self-proclaimed Rhubarb Pie Capitol of the World, Sumner hosts Rhubarb Days the second weekend of July this year. Make sure you get a glimpse of the pie-eating contest, and try out the pancake breakfast (rhubarb pancakes?), community bake-off and petting zoo for the kids.
7/18-20 Vashon Strawberry Festival: As you’re heading down for the Hood River Fruit Loop Cherry Celebration, take a detour over to Vashon Island. Now in its 105th year, the Vashon Strawberry Festival—affectionately referred to as the place “where Mayberry meets Burning Man”—provides a small-town feel with a big events calendar, including a pancake breakfast, grand parade, art stalls and a fireman’s water challenge.
7/18-19 Lynden Raspberry Festival: Head north towards Mt. Baker for Lynden’s annual raspberry festival, which boasts the largest crop of raspberries in the world and includes a street market, a 5K race, live jazz and an all-you-can-eat raspberry pancake breakfast from 7-11 a.m. on Saturday, July 19. ($5, adults)
8/1-3 Mossyrock Blueberry Festival: If you find yourself near Mt. Rainier the first weekend in August, make sure you get your fill of local blueberries: the Mossyrock Blueberry Festival hosts not one but two pancake breakfasts, a 5K across Mossyrock Dam, food and craft vendors, a parade, and even a wiener dog race.
8/31-9/2 Bremerton Blackberry Festival: Blackberry wine, anyone? This waterfront berry festival features wine tasting, food and craft stalls, magic shows for the kids and live blues, jazz, rock—you name it. Full events calendar available here.
WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR EXCESS BOUNTY
Consider taking a basic canning or cooking class to make the most of your freshly picked crop:
Seattle Can Can offers a variety of canning classes throughout the summer ($25 per person, $40 for two people; dates and times vary)
Kids will love the PCC Cooks series, “Berries Jubilee,” for kids ages 7-9, which teaches kids to make raspberry jam, blueberry crisp and strawberry lemonade from scratch ($40, non-members; dates and times vary)
The Pantry at Delancey has room in its Blue Chair Fruit classes (July 1-3; $100), which focus on fruit and berry jam recipes from the James Beard Award-Nominated Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, or go with its Rustic Fruit Desserts classes (August 18, 20; $75). Classes fill quickly, but you can request to be added to the waiting list.