Pigs and goats and cows and … bikes! Central Oregon puts its own spin on agritourism this summer and fall with the inaugural Crooked River Open Pastures (CROP) series in and around the town of Prineville, just 35 miles north of Bend.
Organized by the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance, the Saturday tours include rotating farmers markets at local farms and ranches, the chance to meet the farmer and various family-friendly activities. “For visitors it’s a great opportunity to learn about where their food comes from,” says Seth Crawford, Crook County Commissioner. “That’s why I take my daughters. I want them to know.”
CROP events run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and are free of charge. The fun began in May and will run through October 10, culminating with a day at Windy Acres Dairy Farm (with special guest Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, chronicled in Michael Pollan’s best-selling book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” There is a small fee for this event).
Prineville’s bike shop, Good Bike Company, will host two-wheeled tours along the CROP stops. Visitors can also book guided bike tours of the area on other days. Good Bike owner James Good says road bikers will find authentic, down-to-earth people in a beautiful area. “There is exceptional road riding and exceptional farms and ranches producing some the of the best cheeses and meats and vegetables that you can find,” says Good Bike owner James Good, “So to combine the two is the perfect marriage.”
The CROP tour on July 11 visits Bluestone Gardens, which offers herbs, plants, goats milk and landscape design services. On July 18, Dancing Cow Farms hosts, giving people the chance to view heritage and pasture-raised cows, sheep and poultry. Flying Pig Hops farm is the venue on August 8. Crawford says the location, tucked in at the western edge of Crook County, offers gorgeous views of Smith Rock. On August 15, visitors can meet a professional forester and have a “timber-to-table” experience at Wine Down Ranch. September 12 will see a harvest gala at Smudgie Goose Farm, and Sept. 19 takes people on a tour of award-winning Brasada Ranch.
CROP tour enthusiasts can pick up a passport and collect stamps along the way for a yet to be determined prize. For more information, go to the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance’s website.