Warm summer days herald the beginning of the fruit picking season at the dozens of farms in Green Bluff north of Spokane. Most people know Green Bluff for its cherry and apple festivals, but there are fruits and vegetables ripening all summer long.
On Saturday, Eleven Acres Farm on Day-Mt. Spokane Road was doing good business in green tomatoes and broccoli. Some people hauled away the tomatoes by the boxful, the green orbs bigger than a closed fist.
“We’re just getting started,” co-owner Joyce Hunt said.
Some customers came in looking for cherries, but Hunt advised them to wait a bit longer. “They’re going to be sweeter next week,” she said.
Chante Fleming brought her two children and her nephew to Eleven Acres Farm from her home in Airway Heights. She found her favorite strawberry patch closed but stopped by Eleven Acres to see what was growing.
“We still make the drive because we love Eleven Acres,” she said as the children picked broccoli. “We’re definitely not going home without anything.”
This weekend is the last weekend of the Strawberry Festival, but the main fields were closed Saturday for ripening. Siemers Farm will be open for picking from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, and Knapp’s will be open from 7 a.m. to noon on Monday.
Jason Morrell sells picked strawberries at his business, Walter’s Fruit Ranch. They come from other Green Bluff farms and sell out quickly. He only gets fresh berries on the days the strawberry fields are open for picking. “You have to get here early,” he said.
Customers can call him to reserve a flat of strawberries, which is about 12 pounds of fruit.
“The thing about a strawberry from Green Bluff is once you’ve had one, you’ll be ruined for any others,” Morrell said.
Morrell doesn’t grow strawberries himself but he does offer pick-your-own cherries, apricots, nectarines, plums, peaches, apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, rhubarb, pumpkins and winter squash.
A map and information on the individual farms is available at www.greenbluffgrowers.com. Most farms are open daily during the growing season of whatever fruit or vegetables they offer, but it is often best to call ahead. Several of the farms have cafes and shops.
The annual Cherry Festival begins Saturday and is held every weekend through the end of the month. The Peach Festival runs from Aug. 16 through Labor Day weekend, and the Apple Festival is on weekends from Sept. 20 to Oct. 26.