Connecting the farm-stand dots
Barb Bauman and her attentive staff stay plenty busy this time of the year as visitors stream into Bauman's Farm & Garden in search of fresh produce, plants and other sundries at the rural Gervais farmstead.
The Howell Prairie Road locale is among 22 stops designated on the Marion County Farm Loop, a road-map brochure that guides country cruisers to various points on the landscape where they may find goods cultivated by local farmers. The guiding loop is provided through Oregon Agritourism Partnership, the overarching nonprofit that administers Oregon Farm Loop.
Also among the 22 stops are Beilke Family Farm in Brooks; Egan Gardens on River Road N near Waconda; Margie's Farm & Garden in Aurora; French Prairie Gardens & Family Farm of St. Paul; Scenic Valley Farms of rural Gervais; Sebright Gardens, south of Brooks.
Marion Farm Loop is now beginning its third season, and it joins other nearby loops of similar ilk: Canby Farm Loop, Molalla Farm Loop and Farmlandia, the latter featuring urban stops around Wilsonville, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Oregon City, Tualatin and Milwaukie.
"A farm loop provides families and individuals -- local folks and visitors from elsewhere -- with an easy way to locate authentic farm products and on-farm experiences," said Mary Stewart, spokesperson for Oregon State University's Extension Service Agriculture Business Development, a facilitator of the agritourism partnership.
"The self-guided driving tour offers a variety of farm stops, including farm stands with fruits, vegetables and meats; farmers markets; flowers and specialty nursery plants; baked goods and pies; gourmet foods; wineries and cideries," Stewart itemized. "Loopers enjoy authentic farm experiences including harvest games and festivals, friendly farm animals, educational tours and tastings, farm to table dinners and farm tours."
Most farm stops are open year-round, but some are open for only their harvest season, so calling ahead or checking with the farm's Facebook or website is recommended.
While the loop guides specifically designate certain stops, the tour may lead to other discoveries.
"Marion County is home to nearly 3,000 farms and is the No. 1 agricultural producer by value in the state," Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Alexis Taylor said. "We are so lucky in Oregon to be able to have access to a diversity of fresh locally grown food and agricultural products. And it actually takes very little effort for all us Oregonians to access those, whether its via community supported agriculture or CSAs, u-pick farms, farm stands or maybe your favorite winery.
"Statewide Oregon has more than 300 farm stands, and over 100 of those are in Marion County alone," Taylor added. "And that's great: that's allowed farmers to get connected to who their consumers are."