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Top Family Friendly Farms

Published: September 01, 2019

 

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.

Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm

Eugene / Pleasant Hill
Picking pumpkins at Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm
Pumpkin Picking at Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm by Taj Morgan

 

This picturesque family farm on the banks of the Willamette River is open in October for pumpkins and December for Christmas trees. But they have 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.

Detering Orchards

Coburg / Harrisburg
Detering Orchards by Joni Kabana
Detering Orchards by Joni Kabana

 

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! Adults will be thrilled to discover "The Saloon", an open-air, family-friendly hard cider bar featuring local Elk Horn Brewery's farm-to-table craft beer and ciders. And don't worry about missing a Duck football game during a fall weekend - you can watch it on their flat screen TV in The Saloon.

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 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.

Thistledown Farm

River Road / Junction City
Thistledown Farm by Joni Kabana
Thistledown Farm by Joni Kabana

 

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, their 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 Thursday 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! 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.

Groundworks Organics

River Road / Junction City
U-Pick Flowers at Groundwork Organics by Melanie Griffin
U-Pick Flowers at Groundwork Organics by Melanie Griffin
 

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. Their farm stand is abundant with carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, herbs, turnips, beets, peppers, beans, onions, berries, cucumbers and lettuces.

Bush's Fern View Farms

Territorial Hwy / Veneta
Peach picking at Bush's Fern View Farm by Melanie Griffin
Peach picking at Bush's Fern View Farm by Melanie Griffin

 

U-pick strawberries and peaches during the summer. When the season turns to fall, it's all about the hay maze, freshly pressed apple cider and harvest decor like corn stalks and gourds.

Herrick Farms

Springfield / McKenzie River

Load up on corn, apple cider, berries, pumpkins, u-cut Christmas trees and more depending on the season. During the holidays enjoy Kopper Kettle caramel corn, caramel apples and hayrides. Herrick Farms strives for sustainable farming.

Tips for Family Farm Visits

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) Cash is helpful to have for spontaneous farm stand purchases, but most markets take credit cards.

5) If you are concerned about spraying, ask ahead of time if crops are organic, no-spray or conventional.

6) 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.

Author: Taj Barnhart Morgan

Taj Barnhart Morgan is the Web Content Manager for Travel Lane County. A journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, Taj has two decades of special event management and hospitality marketing experience in San Diego, CA and Maui, HI. Passionate about mothering, and back to her Oregon roots, she is discovering the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region all over again through the eyes of her daughter.