It can be both fun and educational to take a farm tour, with the chance to meet those who produce our food, and often time taste the results and meet up with some of the farm animals too. Here are some of the best places in the Northwest to do just that.
Mary Olson Farm, Kent, Washington
Mary Olson Farm offers the chance to tour and farm and a historic 19th-century site. The 100-year-old orchard makes an ideal spot for a picnic, and you’ll find interpretive signs scattered throughout the property with information on the site’s history, including the story of the Olson family and the restoration process that brought it back to life. Enjoy close encounters with the happy resident cows, Libby and Annabelle too. The farm’s caretakers, Julie and Sam, open up the property for tours at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
If you visit during the summer, you can take advantage of one of the many special programs and events, like a lecture on honeybees, poets and music on the farm and even beer festivals.
Mystery Bay Farm, Marrowstone Island Washington
Mystery Bay Farm is a five-acre family farm located on Marrowstone Island near the town of Port Townsend on the northern Olympic Peninsula. This WSDA-certified Grade A Dairy produces farmstead, goat milk cheeses and yogurt that are all available for general sale. It also offers educational farm tours, cheese making classes, farm dinners and more. By scheduling a tour in advance, you can meet the goats as well as tour the milk- and cheese-making facility.
Woodinville Lavender Farm, Woodinville Washington
Visiting the Woodinville Lavender Farm, with its expansive lavender fields and spectacular views overlooking the vineyards of Sammamish Valley, feels as if you’re stepping into southern France. This farm offers a host of activities, including U-pick lavender, the opportunity to learn how to make a wide range of lavender craft projects and vast lawns for picnicking. There’s a gift shop as well as tasty Whidbey Island lavender ice cream to taste too.
Heart 2 Heart Farms, Forest Grove, Oregon
This family-run, community supported agriculture (CSA) and livestock farm dedicated to growing and cultivating fresh, pesticide and hormone-free food products. You can make an appointment to come out to visit and see what it’s really like to run a farm as Heart 2 Heart Farms notes on its website:
“When you do come to visit the farm, you should expect wind, rain, snow, slush, mud and mucuk and all sorts of slippery and uneven terrains to be traversed. There WILL be poop on the grounds from free-ranging animals, and said free-ranging animals may be quite persistent and pushy in their solicitation of attention – dress appropriately, as they will get you DIRTY.”
The Farmlandia Farm Loop, Oregon
The Farmlandia Farm Loop is a self-guided farm tour route that will bring you t0 farms throughout the southeast Portland and Wilsonville area, including U-pick farms to take home lavender, herbs, fruits and vegetables, as well as to meet friendly farm animals and dine on meals made with local, fresh ingredients. The loop includes all types of farms, not only those that produce the aforementioned items, but flowers, native plants, baked goods and whole grains, local wines and more.
Willows Edge Farm, Boise, Idaho
Willows Edge Farm in Boise also offers an authentic farm tour, including the chance to visit with the animals and take part in hands-on activities. As it states, “This is not an area that has been ‘set up’ to be a petting zoo or a makeshift farm…this is an actual, real working farm with horses, chickens, cows and sheep located just south of Boise & Meridian in beautiful Kuna. You’ll get nutritional information, the opportunity to feed chickens, horses, sheep or cows, learn about the history of heritage breeds, find out more about farm life and much more.
Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese, Gooding, Idaho
If you like cheese, don’t miss the chance to visit the Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese, in Gooding, Idaho, about 40 miles from Twin Falls, It produces award-winning cheeses, including Idaho White Cheddar, Pepper Cheddar and cheese curds, Idaho Golden greek grilling cheese and many other types. All of it is made in small, handmade batches, and the milk used to make it comes from the farm’s own small herd of Jersey cows that are never treated with rbST.