On a trip to Boston we stopped for some apple picking with some friends. We went to Highland Farm in Holliston. They offer 11 varieties of apples but it was pretty late in the season so there were lots of apples on the ground. We mainly picked Pink Lady apples (my favorite!) and Honey Crisp. My daughter loved eating the apple straight from the tree with juice dripping down her chin. It is funny because each time we go out “foraging” for food, she eats a ton while we are picking but when I try to serve the same fruit on a plate she doesn’t show much interest. She did this when we went blueberry picking in Oregon and the same thing happened with the apples. Maybe eating straight off the tree… or just in nature is the trick? Or maybe she feels like she is getting a free meal? Anyone else notice this with children? Whatever the reason, we will try to do pick-your-own more often!
We spent some time in Oregon last week and stayed a night in Hood River. The Hood River County Fruit Loop is about one hour from Portland located in the Columbia River Gorge. We spent one day exploring part of the Fruit Loop, a 35 mile loop which connects farms and orchards. There are about 32 stops along the way.
The first stop we made was to Cody Orchards Fruit Stand. We bought some cherries from the stand to enjoy throughout the day. You can also pick your own apples, pears and cherries here depending on the season. I really enjoyed the little garden right outside the fruit stand.
The second stop we made was to Packard Orchard and Bakery. They had a little fresh fruit but seemed to specialize in jams, preserves, and baked goods. They also had ice cream. The view from the orchard was beautiful and you had a direct line of sight of Mount Hood. I did like their display of pickled veg including pickled beets, jalapeños, dilly beans, ginger pickled radish, and asparagus to name a few. If you are a sweets lover this might just be the place for you with the assortment of very large cookies, and fruit-packed pastries. I don’t eat items with processed sugar added so this wasn’t the place for me but I did enjoy the view.
The third stop was to Hood River Lavender and this was one of my favorite stops! This is an organic lavender farm with beautiful views and smells! They had rows and rows of lavender which you could cut yourself plus they had lots of other flowers interplanted. They also had a portion sectioned off for wildflowers with a trellised grape entrance. This place was buzzing with bees and butterflies. The tiny shop offered lavender oil, lotions, soaps and much more. Our last stop was Cascade Alpacas and Foothills Yarn and Fiber. We were greeted by several adorable and gentle alpacas. They had been sheered in May so their coats were not as fluffy as the alpaca I remember from my trip to Peru. However, they were still really soft. They also had a few baby alpaca born just a few weeks ago! Inside the store there was yarn from their alpaca both dyed and natural colors. They also had lots of other yarns from other places in their well stocked store. If you are a knitter this is the place for you! We bought some yarn from their baby alpaca which they label with the name of the alpaca so you know which babe offered their wool to you! Plus the staff here were welcoming and very knowledgeable. They took the time to explain how they care for their animals as well as the process of making their yarn.
If you are in Oregon, I would highly recommend the Fruit Loop and the Hood River area. There is nothing better than eating freshly picked fruit surrounded by beautiful scenery!
We spent this weekend in Santa Cruz. It is always nice to get away from Sacramento’s heat and be beach side for a little bit. We took many walks and I was impressed with how many houses in Santa Cruz had front yards landscaped with bee-friendly, drought tolerant, and even edible themes. It seemed like every 5th house had a lawn and the rest were beautiful and interesting yards. We stayed at a little cottage that was down the street from a large community garden. The garden had a long path down the middle for cars or trucks to go through with plots on either side. It was huge! I particularly liked one plot’s raised bed which was the shape of two E’s back to back. This was a huge bed but you could reach the middle very easily! Also one plot had the tallest corn I have ever seen. It definitely puts my corn to shame! Take a look at all the things they had going on in this garden!