The sweet allure of picking your own berries for cheap prices has dulled a bit this summer, considering that after you make the drive out to one of Portland's neighboring farms, your gas intake may put the cost of berries on par with New Seasons' offerings. So pick the right road trip—while driving 20 miles for a $6 burger and a petting zoo may thrill some, there's a lot to be said for dodging tourist traps and sweating like a farmer for a day. Here are some of the area's best U-pick bets.
BAGGENSTOS FARM STORE
15801 SW Roy Rogers Road, Sherwood, 590-4301, baggenstosfarms.com. 9 am-7 pm Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm Saturday, 10 am-5 pm Sunday.
This is a great place to take your children if they can't behave. Baggenstos offers chubby pygmy goats in small cages and a playground beside a picnic area, along with enough ice-cream bars (75 cents each) to quiet the little ones. Folks can't get enough: On an average summer Saturday, about 800 people will stop by to pick berries or choose from the wide selection of pre-picked produce. Due to the farm's popularity, the crops were well picked over on our visit, and the wails of children looking for their parents (or vice versa) were ear-piercing enough to curb any berry appetites.
Top crops: Strawberries, $1.25/lb.; raspberries $1.35/lb.
Distance from PDX: 18.5 miles
21035 SW Old Pacific Highway, Sherwood, 538-1822. Call for hours.
Bear Hollow is basically the day-lily-covered back yard of a master gardener. Beautiful gardens flank a tiny (1/3 acre) blueberry patch just below a rickety raised railroad track with orchards and a pond beyond. Granted, we arrived prior to Bear Hollow's July 15 public opening, which meant the patch was delightfully empty, but the couple says that roughly only 200 to 400 people (mostly longtime regulars) visit the honeysuckle-scented farm over the course of a season. The 200 blueberry bushes have been around since 1948 and are pesticide-free. (Cash and checks only.)
Top crops: Blueberries (no spray), $1.25/lb. Bring your own containers. (Opens July 15)
Distance from PDX: 20 miles
17100 NW Sauvie Island Road, 621-3489, krugersfarmmarket.com. 9 am to sunset daily.
You'll pay top dollar to labor here. Seeming like less of a farm than a sun- and fruit-lover's mall, Kruger's also sells straw hats and Bolga baskets, canning kits, pre-picked fruits and veggies (local and otherwise) and sunscreen. On weekends, bands and burgers (meat, veggie, salmon $5-$6) appear. Instant-gratification folks flock here, given its proximity to the Sauvie Island bridge, and the berry fields get crowded quickly, so be prepared to search for the ripe ones.
Top crops: Strawberries, raspberries, marionberries, blueberries—up to 10 lbs., $1.75/lb.; 10-20 lbs., $1.65/lb.; 20+ lbs., $1.35/lb.
Distance from PDX: 12 miles
24000 SW Scholls Ferry Road, Hillsboro, 628-0431. 9 am-6 pm daily.
With its berry fields set alongside busy Scholls Ferry Road, Rowell Bros is cheap, friendly and straight to the point. They already know you're going to pilfer berries while you pick, so they've announced their berry fields are all-you-can-eat. How could anyone not love a U-pick with nary a soul in sight, not to mention one that boasts members of the adjacent community church camped out by the parking lot selling jars of homemade jam? (Cash and checks only.)
Top crops: Raspberries: 99 cents/lb. Bring your own containers.
Distance from PDX: 19 miles
SOUTH BARLOW BERRIES
29190 S Barlow Road, Canby, 266-3193, southbarlowberries.com. 9 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday.
Follow the drive from the stark roadside barn and you end up at a nouveau-plantation-like house with fruit fields a few steps away. Their raspberries have taken a hit this year, but everything else is going strong. Parking is a headache, and despite the friendliness of the owners, you can't help but wish you were gazing at a rickety farmhouse instead of a manicured lawn. The near-free price of the berries makes up for most of that, however. (Cash and checks only.)
Top crops: Strawberries, blueberries, marionberries—85 cents a pound. Bring your own containers.
Distance from PDX: 28 miles