Even in the strangest of years, the summer and fall in the Pacific Northwest still retain some of their traditions. During the pandemic, people still hiked, picnicked, and camped, and on the weekends, families throughout Oregon and Washington still drive out to rural farms in pursuit of pick-your-own produce.
From summer to fall, u-pick options shift from berries to apples and pears, from the farms on Sauvie Island to the orchards in Hood River. During this time of social distancing, some u-pickers may be seeking less crowded, out-of-the-way spots, like Baurs Corner Farm 20 minutes north of downtown Vancouver, where lush walnut trees are waiting to be picked. Others may be inspired to harvest for a cause: Urban Abundance, a nonprofit program that helps avoid food waste and combat food insecurity by organizing groups to glean excess fruit from trees on private property, donating a portion to Clark County Food Bank.
Frequent u-pickers will notice some new rules at their favorite spots; calling a farm or checking their website before heading out will help avoid confusion. In general, customers are required to wear masks indoors and in crowded areas, as well as practice social distancing. Some places allow customers to bring their own containers, while others don’t; most ban eating or “grazing” while people are out in the fields. Beyond the farm-specific rules, however, it’s smart to just practice some basic, courteous safety precautions: Wash your hands before picking, and keep a close eye on your kids. Pets aren’t allowed at most farms.
Despite a few extra rules and precautions, picking farm-fresh produce outdoors is safe and an ideal way to celebrate the fall harvest. Plus, it gives you an excuse to make pie. This map generally sticks to farms in Clark, Hood River, and Washington counties; for farms farther south, try this list from the Statesman Journal. For restaurant recommendations, check some of the restaurants on the Columbia River Gorge, Vancouver, or western suburbs maps and guide.
The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.Read More