Farm to Table

Strawberry Alarm Clock

written by Thor Erickson photography by Charlotte Dupont LIKE CLOCKWORK, every year in early May, I start to hear a voice in my head. No matter where I am or what I am doing, it stops me in my tracks. A deep, faint, mildly pleasant whisper. “Strawberries,” it gently says, like a game-show host leading a yoga class in The Twilight Zone. “Strawberries,” it tells me, more frequently as days pass. This voice is telling me that Oregon strawberry season is looming, and I had better be ready. The haunting refrain “Strawberries …” is warning that there might not be enough time to fully capture the fleeting ripeness of these sweet little Northwest gems. “Strawberries …” underscoring that no time machine would allow me to live in Oregon strawberry season for eternity. If I don’t heed the call, I might not have enough time to enjoy the Totem, Hood, Tillamook,…

Columbia Farms on Sauvie Island bring the berries to the people

written by Sophia McDonald photography by David L. Reamer Come May, the rows of calf-high plants at Sauvie Island’s Columbia Farms have reached their full size and seem to stretch endlessly toward the horizon. Hidden beneath waterfalls of sawtooth-edged leaves are one of spring’s biggest treats—strawberries, some big, some small, all bright red and promising sublime sweetness. Maybe it’s just that strawberries are the first fruit to come on the market after a long winter full of earthy storage crops and bitter greens. Maybe it’s that unparalleled flavor, coupled with their charming heart shape and striking color. There’s something special about this berry—especially for Oregonians, who live in one of the best berry-growing regions in the world and, as a result, have access to premium fruit during the short growing season. So many people don’t know where their food comes from, and u-pick is a great way to bridge that…

The Art of Goat Cheese

The Art of Goat Cheese

A second-generation goat cheese maker dishes written by Sophia McDonald photography by Eugene Pavlov Does anything epitomize spring more than baby goats frolicking in a farmer’s emerald green field? This has been a familiar view for Patricia Morford with Rivers Edge Chèvre since 1958, when her father brought home the family’s first goats. Jack, Stripes and Pinky had a specific job—eating the blackberries that had overrun an apple orchard. They stayed with the family long after the vines were gone, however, and ended up being the inspiration for Morford’s career as a farmstead cheesemaker. Long before she wrapped her first log of chèvre, Morford was known for her outstanding goat breeding program. “I just kind of fell into making cheese because I had such good milk genetics and I was interested in producing food,” she said. She started making cheese for her family around 1970. By 1990, she had decided…

Oregon-grown hot peppers can spice up any meal

written by Sophia McDonald | photography by Amanda Loman Chili peppers have long been considered an aphrodisiac. The theory goes that the capsaicin, or spicy compound, in these colorful vegetables triggers a release of endorphins as it hits the tongue. That little release of pleasure makes your body warm and ready for other pleasurable activities. Oregon-grown hot peppers aren’t available in stores or farmers markets around Valentine’s Day, but those lucky enough to have stocked up on chili powders and fermented hot sauces from Crossroads Farm near Eugene can still get their spicy fix. Debbie Tilley, who operates the 25-acre organic farm with her husband, Ben, has been producing value-added goods for decades. She used to specialize in dried flower arrangements and ornamental produce, including strings of chilis similar to the ristras found all over New Mexico. “About [the year] 2000, dried flowers died. Dead in the water,” she said….

Old Blue Raw Honey Behind the Scenes

Nectar of the Gods: Old Blue Raw Honey comes in many (nuanced) flavors written by Sophia McDonald | photography by Bill Purcell The jars of thick liquid sitting on Old Blue Raw Honey’s table at the Corvallis Farmers Market ranged in color from spun gold to dark amber. As customers picked them up, company co-owner Camille Storch explained the hand-printed notes on the labels. Storch and her husband, Henry, who has been keeping bees for about twelve years, pay careful attention to the nectar source available to each of their hives. Instead of mixing everything together when they bottle the honey, they keep each hive’s products separate so they can tell customers where the sweet liquid came from and what the bees were eating. Why go to all this trouble? Just as an animal’s diet affects the flavor of its meat or soil influences a wine’s terroir, a bee’s food…

The Oregon Kiwi

Oregon Kiwi: We are the country’s top producer of this unusual fruit written by Sophia McDonald | photography by Anthony C. Castro Is it possible to grow this tropical fruit in Oregon? Oregon is known for producing world-class berries from spring to early summer. But come September, a strange-looking variety briefly appears for about two weeks. They’re tan globes about the size of a grape. Each has a sweet-tart flavor and a smooth skin that’s entirely edible. Cut one open and the mystery is solved. The flesh of these tiny fruits is lime green and dotted with tiny black seeds. They’re known as kiwi berries, baby kiwi or hardy kiwi, and they’re kin to the fuzzy-skinned fruit commonly found in grocery stores. Oregon is the country’s top producer of this unusual fruit—which is to say there are a handful of farmers growing them on about 125 acres. Peter Dinsdale with…

Farm To Table: Oregon Table Grapes

String the words “Oregon” and “grapes” together and most people immediately visualize the vines that run up and down hillsides in the state’s many wine regions.

Back to the Land

It could be in a barn, or at a long table under the stars in a vineyard that you taste a perfectly braised piece of elk or a handcrafted wedge of locally made cheese. No matter where it takes place or what you get to eat, attending one of Field & Vine’s “Dinners in the Field” is guaranteed to feature farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients paired with a  fine wine.