Family Friendly Farms Tour
Bring your kids to a farm for u-pick fruit and vegetables or for a special harvest event. Whether picking peaches, crushing apples for cider or taking a hay bale ride into a pumpkin patch, your children can enjoy the farm-to-table experience too. All around Eugene - Springfield and the surrounding communities of Coburg, Creswell, Veneta and Junction City, there are many small farms that welcome families.
Pick a few farms from the list below and make a day of memories exploring the South Willamette Valley Food Trail. The kids will gain a deeper appreciation for how food gets to their plate!
Bush's Fern View Farms
Territorial Hwy / Veneta
U-pick strawberries (May/June) and peaches (late July/August) during the summer. Follow their Facebook page to see what's ready for harvest. When open, Bush's storefront overflows with seasonal abundance from freshly harvested corn to bags of hazelnuts. When summer turns to fall, it's all about the hay maze, freshly pressed apple cider, pumpkins and harvest decor like corn stalks and gourds.
River Road / Junction City
Their classic red barn with white trim makes this a must-stop photo opportunity (plus you can get Lochmead ice cream). Family-owned and operated, Thistledown's large market place opens daily starting in mid-April. Spring kicks off with beautiful hanging baskets of flowers — you really will want to take a few home — and veggie starts. Next there will be herbs, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches and Walla Walla onions. Tomatoes, peppers, corn and apples round out the offerings (and there is more). In October, the farm transforms into pure family entertainment with Lane County's largest pumpkin patch. On the weekends, ride a horse drawn wagon ride into the fields, visit the farm animals and wander the corn maze.
Hentze Family Farm
River Road / Junction City
Open seasonally Friday through Monday, the century-old farm features a marketplace and a cook shack with hot sandwiches and fries managed by four generations of the Hentze family. Their annual cherry festival includes cherry cobbler and black cherry ice cream (Grandma's recipe). They even have cherry lemonade! At the Hentze Family Farm, u-pick or buy flats of produce; and for a small fee, use their food processing services for washing, shelling or pitting the produce or nuts. You can also purchase a hay bale here for your harvest decorations or Halloween parties. Octoberfest typically includes pony rides, tractor wagon rides and lots of pumpkins. Partake in the night walk through an acre of trails lit with giant carved jack-o'-lanterns. Along with the animals from geese to goats, the farm has a fantastic collection of vintage tractors.
River Road / Junction City
A serene stop, this smaller farm offers a delightful crop of u-pick flowers such as zinnias, snapdragons, sunflowers and dahlias. Imagine the bouquets from armfuls of flowers! You can also u-pick strawberries, peaches and other items here. And the best part about this easily-accessible farm is that it is all organic. The Groundwork Organics' farm stand is abundant with carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, herbs, turnips, beets, peppers, beans, onions, berries, cucumbers and lettuces. The farm stand is open Thursday - Sunday and the u-pick fields are open seasonally.
Side Trip: Camas Country Mill Bakery
Any jaunt around Junction City should include a visit to Camas Country Mill & Bakery. Learn about the different types of wheat and grain grown on their farm, stock up on local flour and grains and take home fresh baked bread from their "test kitchen". This family-owned farm and mill also offers occasional baking classes. There is a historic one-room schoolhouse onsite that functions as a dining room when they are serving lunch.
Coburg / Harrisburg
During summer and through fall, Detering Orchards has wave after wave of seasonal u-picks. Start with strawberries and cherries, indulge in peaches (gloriously golden and drippy sweet), go crazy over blueberries, welcome back school with apples and pumpkins and end with hazelnuts and walnuts. Along the way try to excite your kids with green bean u-picking and the bountiful produce sold at their large market stand. The farm has a children's playground and an animal corral with cows, goats and chickens to feed and admire. During special event weekends celebrate the current seasonal u-pick with other fun activities like treasure mining, a mechanical bull, cow barrel rides, wagon rides, apple blasters and a fall corn maze. There is the cider barn with delicious hot spiced cider and homemade tamales. And caramel apples!
Johnson Family Farm
Coburg / Eugene
Berries rule here with bountiful July harvest u-picks and plenty of berries in their market. Year-round you can purchase ten varieties of homegrown frozen berries (including huckleberries). Other popular u-picks at Johnson Family Farm include apples, hazelnuts, pumpkins, rhubarb, Swiss chard and flowers. During fall, this is the wildest farm around with pumpkin pelting at scarecrows, pumpkin bungee launching at targets and Walt's Wild Wagon Ride (which really does careen around corners so hold on tight!). There is also an indoor hay maze built from 1,500 hay bales.
Side Trip: Aragon Alpacas
Open by appointment only.
Delight the kids with a stop at this southeast Eugene farm devoted to alpacas and their fine fleece. Not only are the alpacas fun to feed and observe, the farm's small storefront features luxurious homespun clothing and crafts. Aragon Alpacas offers a beautiful farm setting with a classic red barn.
Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm
Eugene / Pleasant Hill
This picturesque family farm on the banks of the Willamette River is open in October for pumpkins and December for Christmas trees. But Northern Lights has a lot more too! They sell beef, pork, turkeys and eggs. And during their open u-pick months there is a boutique holiday-themed gift store, coffee bar and tractor rides. Children can look at goats, cows, pigs and chickens and romp on hay bales. On the weekends there is a bonfire, live music, farm stand vendors with produce, and food carts (think pulled pork sandwiches and homemade fudge). For folks that aren't inclined to head into the fields (wear your boots), there are bins of easy-to-select pumpkins and gourds, and in December, pre-cut trees. An impressive corn maze featuring both a children's section and more challenging course is the main attraction in October. Even if you don't take home a pumpkin or a Christmas tree, come for the fun activities and plentiful photo opportunities.
Oak Song Farm
This sweet family farm has a charming red farm stand offering a variety of fresh produce and fruits. Oak Song Farm also has goats and chickens. But what they are known best for are their beautiful and abundant flowers. Pick up a bouquet of sunflowers, snapdragons, zinnias, statice and more. Local nearby wineries and breweries source their table arrangements from here, and Oak Song also provides floral arrangements for special events and occasions.
Side Trip: Creswell Bakery
Showcase the farm to fork concept by taking the kids to Creswell Bakery during a day of farm visits. This family-owned and farm-sourced bakery is a beloved destination for sticky cinnamon buns, pretzels, muffins, bread and delicious sandwiches. Pick up the perfect meal to pair with the fresh fruits and veggies that have been gathered along the way.
Turn your Willamette Valley explorations into a farm "getaway" by staying one or more nights in the country. Book a room at Territorial Farm Stay in Junction City for an immersive experience and wake up on the farm! Camp out in their RV guest accommodations or park your own RV. Then rally the kids to help with grooming the horses, weeding and watering the garden or harvesting produce. Imagine morning walks in the sunlight pasture, petting the horses; and cool, comfortable evenings relaxing on the patio after helping feed the animals their evening meal.
Another farm stay option is All Inclusive Lavish Bed & Breakfast at Sweet Springs Family Farm near Cottage Grove. Choose an onsite "glamping" option like a refurbished and outfitted Volkswagen camper bus or a cozy semi-truck cab sleeper. You can also book tent and RV sites on the farm. Learn how to milk a goat, gather herbs from the garden and make soap from the goat's milk. Help feed the animals, go horseback riding and cook dinner over a campfire.
1) Call ahead to confirm open days and hours and which crops are currently in season and available for u-pick. Check the calendar for special events because that will impact parking and crowds. Weekends are generally busier but also offer additional activities.
2) While some places provide buckets or boxes, you may need to bring your own containers to pick into or to transport your bounty home. Make sure they are small enough to carry comfortably when loaded with produce. Peaches bruise easily, so if you are lucky enough to have saved boxes with plastic liners from previous produce purchases — bring them!
3) Wear closed-toed farm appropriate footwear — boots or tennis shoes are a good choice. Wear a hat, bring gloves or clippers if needed. You may also wish to bring small step stool or ladder depending on what you are harvesting, or what is provided on-site.
4) Stay hydrated. Picking fruits and vegetables may be hot and tiring under direct sun, particularly for the children. Along with your hat, bring sunblock and a water bottle.
5) Cash is helpful to have for spontaneous farm stand purchases, but most markets take credit cards.
6) If you are concerned about spraying, ask ahead of time if crops are organic, no-spray or conventional.
7) Many farms offer a delicious selection of farm-made products, so take advantage of your visit to take home a new homemade jam, freshly baked pie or jar of farmhouse honey to try.
First published September 2019.