Have you ever walked down the aisle of an orchard? Peaches, or apples, or pears... the aromas are like heaven. Orchards offer a shady escape on a hot summer day. How about touring an olive orchard, or picking fruit right off a tree to go with your breakfast or lunch. (Keep an eye out for opportunistic horses if you're walking around with apples. I'm just saying...)
Country Farm, set at the base of Oregon's majestic Mt. Hood
about an hour from Portland, is a 3rd generation fruit
farm with a U-pick orchard, a farm stand, a small petting zoo, and
a four-bedroom country cottage guesthouse.
Roman Braun founded the family farm in 1962. Now his daughter
Theresa and her three daughters, Rachel, Crystal, and Stefanie, run
the farm. When I asked Theresa why she chose to take over her
father's farm, she says, "I can't really describe why. I think it's
in my blood. I always loved the farm ... if you love farming, it's
just something you want to do."
The farm is 40 acres, with 15 acres of apples, peaches,
nectarines, plums, apricots, and berries that visitors can pick
themselves. Theresa says that the sweet and juicy peaches, plums,
and nectarines are her favorites - she especially recommends Red
Haven peaches. She also loves their apples, the crop for which the
farm is most well known. Theresa describes her favorite variety
honeycrisp as "really crispy, and just the right amount of sweet
Draper Girls Farm is also known as one of Oregon's few remaining
licensed producers of non-pasteurized, unfiltered ciders. The farm
offers apple, pear, and cherry cider, as well as delicious blends
like cherry-apple, pear-apple, and the new raspberry-apple.
Non-pasteurized cider has a fuller, richer flavor than pasteurized
cider. Theresa says that drinking raw cider is almost like eating
an apple or a handful of cherries, but with even more
flavor. Unpasteurized ciders can start to ferment much sooner than
pasteurized ciders, but the farm follows strict licensing and
monitoring procedures to maintain its quality and shelf life.
For visitors who have a full day or week to spend in the area,
Draper Girls Farm is a stop along the Hood River County "Fruit
Loop", a driving tour with dozens of stops at orchards,
wineries, lavender farms, and even a chestnut farm and an alpaca
In addition to fruit, Roman Braun had always raised sheep.
Theresa and her daughters added goats, mini-goats, llamas,
chickens, turkeys, and geese. The Draper Girls sell their grass-fed
goat and lamb meat at farmers markets and at their onsite farm
Theresa has grown the farm through a rise in direct to consumer
sales. She started the U-pick operation, her favorite way to sell
produce. Theresa says, "The U-pick is really fun. People from the
city get a feel for how we grow things, and they bring their kids
to run around. Our yard has flowers all over it, we have a great
big swing, and we have an old tractor that kids like to sit on for
photos. We love that visitors feel at home when they visit our
In Roman Braun's time, says Theresa, there were no farmers
markets, and all their sheep were sold at auction. People came by
the farm to buy large boxes of fruit for canning and drying, but
direct-to-consumer sales were not a major part of the business.
In 2007, Theresa decided to add a farm stay. She invited guests
to rent the little farmhouse where she lived as a child and where
she raised her own children.
Farm guests are invited to feed the animals, pick fruit, roam
the farm, and participate in farm activities throughout the year.
Venturing off the farm, they can tour the Fruit Loop, taste wine,
visit the City of Hood River or Mt. Hood, and hike, bike, and wind
surf, among many other activities
Though many people wouldn't think to visit a fruit farm in the
winter or early spring, Theresa says it is a neat time of year on
the farm. To growers it is called 'frost season,' and it is a vital
time for ensuring that fruit trees yield a viable crop. During
nightly freezes, the Drapers save their crops by running wind
machines and overhead sprinklers that form droplets on the trees
and their buds. The droplets, as they freeze, release heat and once
frozen also provide essential insulation from the cold and
Theresa says that the farmhouse has everything guests could
want. She explains that she and her daughters fixed it up with
bright cheerful colors. It has a fireplace, lots of antiques, and a
big farm table where families can gather. The house is casual, not
fancy, and family friendly. According to Theresa, "People who stay
there really like it!"
For more information about visiting Draper Girls Country Farm,
check out their Farm Stay U.S.
listing or their farm website. The
Draper Girls cottage has four bedrooms and two baths and rents for
$150 to $275/night.
All photos in this blog courtesy Draper Girls Country
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