Yakima Valley Farms

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Farmers Market-10.jpgBy Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau

Nowhere else in the state can you feast on food so close to where it was grown. Love cherries? Eat one in the Yakima Valley and if you toss the pit hard enough, you'll probably hit the farm it came from. You might say that in the Valley, the source of your next meal is just a stone-fruit's throw away. And a trip to a family-owned local farm beats a visit to the grocery store any day.

If you only have eyes for organic, look no further than the Yakima Valley. According to a recent article in Edible Seattle magazine, the region is home to more than 100 organic farms -- the most in the state as of 2008. You'll find many of these organic producers at weekly weekend farmers markets in Ellensburg, Goldendale, Prosser, Sunnyside and Yakima.

Read more for a list of the farms:
Naches
At the northwest edge of the Valley in Naches, you'll find apples, tomatoes, peppers, herbs and pumpkins at Mance Fruit & Produce on South Naches Road, as well as tree-ripened fruit and cider at family-owned Thompson's Farm just off Highway 12. The farm is open for u-pick on weekends during harvest, and tours are available by appointment.

Selah

Just to the east in Selah is the fragrant, pesticide-free Selah Ridge Lavender Farm. Buy the intoxicating blooms fresh by the bunch or dried in a pretty arrangement. The farm, which welcomes visitors by appointment or a quick phone call before you visit, also sells lavender-scented oils, soaps and skin-care products.

Farmers Market-8.jpgYakima
A bit farther south, Yakima is home to Precision Fruit & Antiques, located along I-80 on East Selah Road and specializing in seasonal fruits and timeless antiques. At Washington Fruit Place at Barrett Orchards, on Peck's Canyon Road, a fourth-generation orchardist nurtures cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, pears and apples.

For more than 100 years, visitors have been stopping by the fruit stand at Johnson Orchards on Summitview Avenue for cherries, peaches and apples, or strolling the orchards and warehouse, which are open daily in season. Residential Fruit Stand on South Third Avenue is open daily mid-July through November and offers fresh local fruit and vegetables, and handmade lunches six days a week.

You can't eat the cacti at the Hillside Desert Botanical Gardens, but you can certainly appreciate their diversity. Tour more than 20 gardens (by appointment only), then purchase your favorite variety to enjoy at home. The plants bloom mid-April through July.

Union Gap

A visit to the 15-acre Central Washington Agricultural Museum is a little like a visit to your grandpa's tool shed -- if your grandpa was the world's most accomplished farmer and meticulous collector. Located in Fullbright Park on the site of a former farm, the sprawling museum is open year-round and features more than 3,000 antique hand tools, a 1917 log cabin, a Burlington-Northern boxcar and a working vintage windmill.

Wapato

Stock up on freshly picked apples and pears at Paul F. Brandt Orchards on Lateral One Road, or pick your own during harvest season (no appointment necessary) from Imperial Garden's 460 family-friendly acres on Lateral A Road. Travel about two miles south and you'll find Dagdagan Farm & Produce, which sells a wide array of vegetables and fruit at their roadside stand, and offers u-pick in season.

Zillah
In Zillah, about 20 miles southeast of Yakima, is Bella Terra Gardens, an organic farm and fruit stand that sells organic and naturally grown produce weekends and by appointment April through November. In addition to produce, the farm grows an aromatic mix of herbs, including sweet basil, garlic, rosemary, cilantro and sage. The historic barn houses a selection of handcrafted items and gifts.

Toppenish
The Yakima Valley may be more commonly known as the heart of wine country, but it's also the nation's largest hop-producing region. At the charming American Hop Museum on South "B" street in Toppenish, you'll find exhibitions and displays devoted to the plucky perennial vine, as well as hop-themed apparel and home décor.

Granger
Jones Farms in Granger offers organically and traditionally grown fruit and vegetables, and a lovely picnic area where you can enjoy your purchases. In the fall, the family-owned farm's haystack maze is a big hit with kids.

Sunnyside
The wonderful world of dairy is celebrated daily at Darigold Dairy Fair, a festive factory and gift shop in Sunnyside. Take a self-guided tour through the history and production of cheese, or pick up deli sandwiches and hand-dipped ice cream for a picnic. You won't find a better selection of bovine-themed tchotchkes for the cow-collector in your life.

Prosser
How can you make a tart, juicy Yakima Valley cherry even better? Cover it in chocolate! That's exactly what they do at the Chukar Cherry Company, and the results are sublime. The company also sells dried fruits, nuts, sauces and gifts, all grown, harvested and packaged in the Pacific Northwest.

Click Here for Farmers' Market tips.

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2 Comments

Are cling free peaches or tomatoes available yet?

Mance Farmhouse: 7081 S Naches Rd, Naches, WA/509-653-2442. We have set a few pumpkins (white/orange) we look forward to harvesting 2012! If you are shopping for pumpkins, give us a call for harvest projections.
Tom & Monica Mance

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