Explore the Farms and Food Stands of the Mid-Willamette Valley
Indulge in a foodie-focused, self-guided tour of the region
For generations, farming has been a way of life for Willamette Valley ranchers, vintners, and growers. Over the years, Oregon’s Willamette Valley has become known for its legendary pinot noir grapes, and today produce 99% of all hazelnuts consumed in the United States. These days, the region hosts nearly 19,500 farms—more than the rest of the state combined—across nearly 1.6 million acres.
At the epicenter of this world-renowned farming community is Salem and the Mid-Willamette Valley, where farms fan out across the region’s fertile soils and produce some of the nation’s notable crops. Many of these family-run operations are part of the Marion Farm Loop and Great Oaks Food Trail, a pair of foodie-focused, self-guided trips to the region’s destination-worthy restaurants, wineries, farm stands, and more.
Best of all: Late September is the height of harvest for many of the Mid-Willamette Valley’s most popular crops—including wine grapes, hazelnuts, apples, and pumpkins. So if you’re planning a trip to the region’s farms and food stands this fall, here are a few favorite stops to help you get started.
Salem Saturday Market
If you're not sure where to start, sample the best of the region at the Salem Saturday Market, which runs weekly between March and October in the heart of downtown Salem. Each weekend, more than 150 vendors share the bounty of the Mid-Willamette Valley—farmers selling fresh crops, artisans showcasing handmade goods, bakers offering yummy treats, and craft beverage producers pouring their latest releases. Selections vary throughout the year, ensuring you get to enjoy whatever’s fresh and in-season.
Even if you can't make it to a Saturday market, you're in luck: Salem Community Markets (the organization behind the city’s markets) also puts on a holiday market each December (featuring more than 250 vendors), as well as a Thursday market in West Salem (where up to 20 vendors share locally sourced food items and fresh fruits and vegetables).
Minto Island Growers
Minto Island Growers, part of the Marion Farm Loop, sits on a family farm in south Salem—and has earned acclaim over the years for making agriculture more accessible through a seasonal farm stand, on-site food cart, and U-pick experiences.
Minto Island's farm stand, typically open April-October, sells fresh, seasonal produce mere steps from its vegetable field; its food cart churns out pizzas, salads, and other homemade, farm-grown fare; and the U-pick experience invites visitors to grab their own tomatoes, green beans, flowers, and strawberries throughout the year.
Minto Island Tea Company is another of the farm’s highlights, featuring a variety of beloved green and black tea varieties grown on one of Oregon’s only dedicated tea farms. So committed is Minto Island to a hyperlocal experience, it grows, picks, and processes all teas on the farm.
Bauman’s Farm & Garden
The Bauman family started farming just outside of Salem in 1895 and is today a Mid-Willamette Valley institution, known for a bevy of locally sourced offerings at Bauman’s Farm & Garden. Part of the Marion Farm Loop, Bauman’s boasts a bountiful farm stand (selling roughly three-dozen varieties of fresh and frozen produce all year long), mouth-watering bakery (featuring scratch-made pies, cookies, breads, and more), fruitful garden center (which sells perennials, succulents, trees, house plants, hanging baskets, and more), bustling gift shop, animal petting zoo, and play area for kids.
If you're looking to really get into the spirit of the season, check out Bauman's Harvest Festival, happening late September through October on the farm. You could spend days eating your way through the festival’s fresh-baked goodies, sampling Bauman's own hard cider, picking pumpkins, taking hayrides, and enjoying all manner of family activities—like trying your hand at an apple cannon, descending a giant slide, or navigating a massive corn maze.
Beilke Family Farm
Just north of Salem, four generations of the Beilke family have grown a variety of crops—including apples, peppermint, blueberries, cherries, corn, and more—since the 1950s at Beilke Family Farm.
The farm is best known for a 10-acre U-pick orchard that invites visitors to choose among 18 varieties of apple each fall. Beilke works to make the experience fun and accessible for the whole family, so each row is noted with the name of that apple variety (with additional signage denoting relative ripeness), and dwarf trees can be reached without a ladder—even for children. Apple U-pick season begins in mid-August and can run through late October or early November, though weather patterns may shift that back or forward by as many as two weeks. You’ll find Beilke Family Farm along the Marion Farm Loop.
French Prairie Gardens
Sitting between Woodburn and St. Paul, the family-owned-and-operated French Prairie Gardens boasts a holistic farm experience that helps visitors understand and appreciate local agriculture in a variety of ways.
The French Prairie farm store was built in 1995 and is today stocked with an abundance of fresh produce, as well as small-batch food items such as jellies and jams crafted from French Prairie fruit. Other experiences on the 500-acre farm have grown over the years to include a bakery that sells scratch-made treats (many featuring farm-grown fruit), a garden center (where 95% of the plants and flowers for sale were grown on-site), and farm-focused events throughout the year (including the photogenic Sunflower Festival, which takes place over two weekends in mid-September and spotlights the bright yellow flower at its colorful peak). French Prairie makes an excellent (and filling) stop along the Marion Farm Loop.
As you head east from Salem, office buildings and eateries rapidly give way to lush farmland that seems to go on forever. One of the top attractions out that way is Fordyce Farm—which has been growing crops since 1959 and is today a fun part of the Marion Farm Loop.
Typically open April through mid-December, the farm's attractions include U-pick experiences (when you want to grab your own goodies), an on-site store (when you don't), and a bakery to satisfy your sweet tooth. The farm store features a mix of locally grown crops and national favorites (like citrus fruit), and the bakery boasts scones, cookies, breads, and more with fresh, seasonal ingredients; be sure to save room for small-batch, house-made ice cream. U-pick season, meanwhile, runs between April and October—and features the freshest apples, berries, currants, pumpkins, and more. If you're planning a September or October visit, arrive ready to pluck your own pumpkins and apples.
Whether you want to pick your own fruit or buy it fresh from a family-run market, you'll find plenty to love about Wildman Farm along the Great Oaks Food Trail.
Throughout the growing season, Wildman's fruit stand is stocked with five varieties of cherry, two varieties of plum, pluots, apples, blueberries, and several other delicacies—including locally sourced marionberries; keep an eye out for fresh peaches and apples when visiting in September and October.
You'll also find eggs, honey, and homemade jellies—all of which are grown or produced on the farm. Owner Pat Wildman is even happy to offer tips and coaching for canning and preserving fruit for pie-baking.
Perryhill Farm sits along the Van Duzer Corridor at the western edge of the Willamette Valley, where ocean air blows in from the Oregon Coast each afternoon; that daily breeze cools the region’s crops and creates ideal growing conditions for the farm’s various fruits—making them less prone to wilting in the occasional heat wave and giving the fruit higher sugar content.
If you want to taste the difference for yourself, you can do so on the farm, which is part of the Great Oaks Food Trail. In all, Perryhill Farm offers plums, seven varieties of blueberry, more than 15 varieties of cherry, 30 kinds of peach, and three kinds of apple ripe for picking throughout summer and autumn. If you're planning a September or October visit, you might be able to pick a few varieties of late-season blueberries (available through early September), peaches (available through mid-September), plums (available through mid-September), and apples (available mid-September through late October).
12989 Howell Prairie Rd. NE
Gervais, Oregon 97026 (503) 792-3524
BAUMAN'S FARM & GARDEN12989 Howell Prairie Rd. NE
Gervais, Oregon 97026
12989 Howell Prairie Rd. NE,
Gervais, Oregon 97026
MARION COUNTY FARM LOOP12989 Howell Prairie Rd. NE,
Gervais, Oregon 97026