A Guide to Exploring the Mid-Willamette Valley Food Trail and Farm Visits
Foodies flock to the Willamette Valley each year for wine tasting, farm visits, farm-to-table meals, and other agritourism activities.
Corvallis is a convenient home-base for exploring regional attractions like the farms featured in the Willamette Valley Food Trails. We love connecting guests with things to do in Corvallis and surrounding areas, whether they are visiting Corvallis or are relocating to Corvallis.
Each season brings something special, for many guests, the lambing season is a delightful time to visit the area.
We spoke with Scottie Jones, co-owner of Leaping Lamb Farm and one of the region’s innovators in agri-tourism. She shared insights about what guests experience during Lambing season and throughout the year. Leaping Lamb Farm is also a featured destination on the Mid-Willamette Valley Food Trail.
“Being involved in tourism, and specifically agritourism, allows me to find the crossover between the world of agriculture that I live daily and the world of travelers, most are urbanites looking for connection to the natural world and experiences that change them. I can provide that experience on my farm,” Scottie told Travel Oregon. “In a nation (and world) with a growing rural-urban divide, we provide a bridge.”
About Agritourism and the Willamette Valley Food Trail
Agritourism isn’t new, the best-known examples in Oregon include wine tasting tours at working vineyards. The industry grew over the years as urban dwellers and foodies discovered they enjoyed having a taste of country life and the opportunity to see where their favorite foods originated.
The farm visit is even more popular as people seek socially-distanced recreational and educational opportunities.
OSU Extension offers support to small farmers, including those involved in agritourism, they describe five types of activities that attract guests to visit a working farm.
- U-pick opportunities or shopping for fresh produce at a farm stand.
- Educational activities like day camps, farm tours, and hands-on workshops.
- Culinary experiences like enjoying a farm to table meal or wine tasting.
- Outdoor recreational activities like horseback riding, hiking, or hey rides.
- Farm-hosted entertainment events like corn mazes, outdoor concerts, or farm festivals.
- In addition to the five areas described by OSU extension, overnight farm-stays incorporate a mix of the previous activities such as those offered by Leaping Lamb Farm.
Whether you like to enjoy locally produced foods, an afternoon outside, or see adorable lambs, Willamette Valley farmers and ranchers are happy to provide you with a memorable experience.
“The Willamette Valley attracts people who enjoy outdoor activities but also appreciate the heritage and culinary offerings of the region.” – Travel Oregon.
Farm visits and agritourism benefit guests and farm owners. Running a farm is an expensive and resource-intensive endeavor, often yielding slim profit margins. Hosting guests provides working farms with a supplemental income source and provides guests of all ages with a lifelong memory.
“We were urbanites when we moved to our farm 18 years ago, romantically deluded about what we were getting ourselves into. The romance fell away fairly quickly as we realized our farming income did not cover our farm bills,” Scottie recalled. “Why not invite guests to share the beauty of our place and learn a little about the farming lifestyle in the meantime? Offer fresh food from the garden, opportunities to see production agriculture first hand, answer questions about chickens, see lambing first hand.”
“Known as agritourism, we found a way to become sustainable to keep our farm, at the same time opening a window into rural America,” said Scottie.
Explore the Oregon Food Trails Each Season
The Oregon Food Trails program offers a curated collection of working farms, ranches, craft beverage makers, and farm-to-table dining opportunities. They cover seven food-producing regions, including the Mid-Willamette Valley and South Willamette Valley. Since Corvallis is located in the heart of the Willamette Valley, it is a short drive to the region’s farms, wineries, and the Central Oregon coast.
Leaping Lamb Farm is a popular Mid-Willamette Food Trail destination. They offer both farm day tours and overnight farm stays.
“You don’t just get a tour of the farm. If you stay with us, it’s hands-on for chores – everything from feeding out hay to helping with lambs in springtime to collecting eggs,” Scottie explained. “If you are here on a day tour, we introduce you to all the animals, the hayloft, the gardens, and what our day is like. Once the tour is over, you may stay for a picnic or hang out with the sheep, the goats, Paco the donkey, or hike into the woods to find the fairy houses.”
Travel Oregon compiled a schedule of some of the key agritourism seasons in and near Corvallis and the Willamette Valley.
- April – July: Flowers
- April – September: Steelhead and Chinook salmon
- April – October: Outdoor farmers’ markets
- May – June: Strawberries
- June – July: Blueberries
- Late June – August: Lavender
- September – October: Apples, cider, hazelnuts, wine harvest, pumpkins
- December – February: Oregon truffles
Other Things to Do In and Near Corvallis During Your Farm Visit
Please note the following farms and attractions are known to have hosted guests in the past for day tours, events, or overnight stays. However, like every other business, they frequently pivot to keep in step with public health guidelines. Contact the farm or visit their website to see their current guest opportunities.
- Alsea Hatchery – a working fish hatchery.
- Bryant Family Farm – U-Pick with around 19 varieties of blueberries.
- Corvallis Farmers Market – Meet regional farmers at this outdoor, riverfront market on Saturdays and Wednesdays, April through October.
- Donovan Place – A Christmas Tree farm and also home to a pottery studio.
- Gathering Together Farm – a working produce farm with a popular farm-to-table restaurant and farm stand.
- Fairfield Farm – U-Pick organic strawberries in an urban farm setting.
- IronWater Ranch – home to adorable sheep, educational events, and wool.
- Leaping Lamb Farm – more adorable animals, farm visits, farm stays, and more.
- Lilliputopia – a tiny eco-farm practicing dry farming.
- Midway Farms – a gluten-free farm that sometimes hosts events, workshops, and day camps for kids.
- The Thyme Garden Herb Co. – An herb garden that hosts luncheons and tours when possible.
- William F. Finley National Wildlife Refuge – beautiful hiking trails and an innovative center to rehabilitate injured wildlife.
- Wine Tasting at local wineries, some offer tours and hiking opportunities. We previously posted a guide to local vineyards and wineries.
While exploring local destinations, you may work up an appetite. You are in luck! Corvallis, Philomath, and Albany happen to be home to various restaurants that offer delicious meals using high-quality, locally sourced ingredients.
Most of these restaurants offer outdoor seating, take-out options, delivery, or curbside pick-up for socially distanced dining. Some options that Fernwood Circle Guest Houses staff and guests enjoy include:
- Del Alma, Corvallis
- Castor Kitchen, Corvallis
- Dizzy Hen, Philomath
- Frankies, Albany
- Gathering Together Farm, Philomath
- Magenta & Snug Bar, Corvallis
- Tacovino, Corvallis
- There really are too many to name, we suggest you visit the Corvallis Culinary Connections Facebook Group for more mouthwatering ideas!
Whether you like to learn more about nature, source delicious organic food, or see beautiful scenery there is something for you when you participate in Willamette Valley Agritourism.
Depending on your preferences, you can stay at one of our premium guest houses in Corvallis or split your time between overnight farm stays and a few nights in Corvallis.