The Green Bluff area north of Spokane started as place to go to pick fresh fruit, but in recent years it has evolved into much more than that. In addition to fresh fruit you can also buy farm fresh eggs, drink a fresh-brewed ale and have lunch.
There’s something to appeal to all ages at the nearly 40 growers clustered in an area just east of U.S. Highway 2. Many growers have pre-picked fruit and vegetables available if you don’t want to do it yourself. Some also have stores where you can buy your favorite fruit already made into a jam, jelly, syrup, pie, ice cream or other tasty treats.
At the Big Barn Brewery Co., you can get your farm-fresh strawberries in an ale. “That’s a big favorite,” brewer Eli Deitz said. “Sixty pounds of strawberries went into that beer.”
The strawberry ale was released at a special launch event last week at the brewery, at 16004 N. Applewood Lane.
Deitz’s parents, Jane and Craig Deitz, opened Bodacious Berries in 1999 while both still worked as teachers. “We just started with raspberries and sold out of the garage,” Eli said.
In 2005 they bought the big red barn next door that now serves as the home for Bodacious Berries. His father was a longtime home brewer and launched Big Barn Brewing in 2012. They make a lavender IPA with lavender grown at a farm down the road and a Black Dog Stout named after their elderly black lab Nandi who wanders the property.
“We do a lot of seasonal beers,” Eli said.
Their beers are also available at local Yoke’s and Rosauers stores as well as at several local farmer’s markets, including the ones in Liberty Lake, Kendall Yards and the South Perry Neighborhood. They sometimes sell excess fruit at the markets as well.
Eli Dietz grew up in the family orchard, but had no plans to join the family business. He went to Whitworth University to study biology with the goal of becoming a doctor. “After a year or so, I realized, I really enjoy working with my hands and picking fruit,” he said.
He joined the family business full time in 2016 and now spends his time making beer and working in the orchards. “It keeps us all busy,” Eli said.
In addition to growing their own hops and strawberries, they also grow raspberries, peaches, pumpkins and Christmas trees. The tap house is open from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday year-round. There’s one group of regulars who have taken to stopping by every Friday afternoon. “They always bring a treat for Nandi,” he said. “All our customers love her.”
Bodacious Berries and Big Barn Brewing has live music and food trucks every Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. during the summer and also music on Saturdays in October during the Apple Festival.
The hours for fruit picking vary depending on ripeness and availability. The best way to check whether a farm like Bodacious Berries is open for picking is to visit greenbluffgrowers.com and click on Fresh on the Bluff. Many growers keep their websites and Facebook pages updated as well. The Green Bluff Growers website includes the web link, street address and phone number for every grower.
The fruit and vegetables available vary by season. Strawberries are ripe in early July and cherries are generally available in July and August. Right now rhubarb, raspberries, garlic and lavender are also in season. Tomatoes are ripe all summer long, and peaches usually ripen in early August. Some growers also offer apricots, pears, cucumbers, corn, carrots, squash and potatoes.
The best way to reach Green Bluff from Spokane is to go north on Highway 2 and turn right on either Day Mount Spokane Road or Green Bluff Road. Drivers can also go north on Argonne Road from Spokane Valley.
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