The lush landscape of Willow-Witt Ranch

You’ve dined at the locally sourced restaurants, you’ve joined a meat CSA, and you’ve mastered the farmers markets. The next step in your culinary tutelage? Spend a weekend herding sheep, milking goats, collecting eggs, tending bees, and harvesting vegetables at an Oregon farm stay. Welcome to the age of agritourism.

Leaping Lamb Farm 

The farm cottage at Leaping Lamb Farm

Homesteaded in 1896, Leaping Lamb Farm sits on the fringe of the Siuslaw National Forest, smack in the middle of the Coast Range. On Scottie and Greg Jones’s 64 acres of pastures, hayfields, and forest backing up to Honey Grove Creek, the only bustle comes in the form of sheep, chickens, geese, horses, and a peacock. From your two-bedroom cottage, you’ll have the run of the property, with the freedom to opt in (or out) of the daily chores. Those might include collecting eggs, picking vegetables from the garden, bottle-feeding lambs, or brushing Paco, a miniature Sicilian donkey. You can also strike out on your own: forage for mushrooms, wander the forest trails, or cool off with dip in the creek. Whatever you choose, nothing beats retiring to your porch to watch the sun drop over Leaping Lamb’s orchards and pastures. 

Willow-Witt Ranch 

Affectionate goats kiss Suzanne Willow and Lanita Witt at Willow-Witt Ranch

Suzanne Willow and Lanita Witt bought their Southern Oregon ranch in 1985, as it lay beneath four feet of snow. Even with its frigid wintry blanket, they couldn’t resist the property, nestled in a meadow at 4,600 feet. Over 28 years, they transformed their sprawling land into a community hub, hosting open barn weekends and farm stays on 12 campsites, two platform tents, and a homey farmhouse studio. Beyond producing sustainable, pasture-raised meat, Willow-Witt has become a model of stewardship, restoring 76 of its 100 acres of wetland and replanting and revitalizing its 280 acres of conifer forest. Guests can gather eggs, feed the goats, survey the vegetable garden, or follow the wildflower-strewn trail to Grizzly Peak for commanding views of the valley. A central kitchen makes for a convivial stay, while frolicking goats offer constant entertainment—and some of the best milk you’ll ever have.

Sakura Ridge 

Enjoy fresh pastries and spectacular views at Sakura Ridge

Sakura Ridge combines rustic delights of a farm weekend and the pampering of a spa retreat, with rooms boasting private decks, postcard-worthy views, fireplaces, and spacious soaking tubs. Just six miles south of Hood River in the verdant foothills of Mount Hood, this farm is at its best in autumn, when the harvest is in full swing. First planted in the 1880s, Sakura Ridge’s 30 acres of pear and apple orchards inspire seasonal preserves, tarts, and strudels, while lush raised garden beds brimming with squash, beans, and tomatoes fuel the daily breakfast. In addition to the requisite sheepherding, berry-picking, and egg-collecting, Sakura Ridge also offers the opportunity to pull honey from 20 beehives. Less dauntingly, guests can plan, pick, and prepare a four-course meal in the farmhouse kitchen with owner Deanna Joyer, complemented with wines from nearby Phelps Creek Vineyards.

Deer Haven Farms 

Take a walk on the wild side at Deer Haven Farms

With more than 200 wineries within a 30-minute drive, Deer Haven Farms is an oenophile’s fantasy. But you’ll quickly find that there’s something for everybody on this bucolic wonderland tucked at the end of a long gravel drive in Newberg. Sunrise brings farm-fresh breakfast on the flower-lined terrace, paired with hazy views of Mount Hood’s peak across the valley floor. After, maybe you’ll head for the kitchen to help Christina Sommers make yogurt, churn butter, or grind grain for her fresh-baked breads. Or maybe you’ll venture into the forest to check out the impressive 300-square-foot tree house, vaulted 15 feet off the ground. Come nightfall, gather your brood on hay bales in the farm’s natural amphitheater and watch a movie on 12-by-12-foot screen under the stars. 

Hit the Road

Pack: If you’re doing a farm stay right, you’ll be getting down in the dirt—so dig those overalls out of the closet.

Hot Tip: Book your stay now for next summer. 

Soundtrack: Black Prairie’s Wild Ones, a soundtrack to Jon Mooallem’s book of the same name documenting the cultural history of people and animals in America

Feast on a Farm: Bad news: this season’s best farm dinners sold out long ago. Good news: there’s always next year. See our picks for 2014's best bets.

This article appeared in the September 2013 issue of Portland Monthly Magazine.

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