courtesy ofJason Tomczak
semi-urban farm is a phrase you don't usually hear said much as
plows turn to scrap metal and fields turn into soccer parks in the
name of development. Some farmers have figured out though how to
live on the edge of an urban area and actually thrive by showcasing
a lifestyle considered unique by condo and single family housing
dwellers. One of these spots is Lee Farms in Tualatin.
Farms sits in a part of the southern Portland Metro area which at
the moment is more pasture than playgrounds. The Lee family has
farmed in and around Tualatin since 1869, having seen some of their
lands become developed. Erika Wilcott (Lee) is the sixth generation
to pitch in raising pumpkins, Christmas trees and assorted berry
crops. She's not alone in her endeavor, being helped out by four
siblings and her father Craig Lee.
grew up on Lee Farms, having helped out her father in tending to
the various chores which make farm life romantic to some and a daily
grind to others. She primarily runs the farm's country store now,
which is open various days May through December. The country store
is one of the first sights visitors are greeted by as they pull
into the farm's driveway off of SW 65th Avenue and south of Interstate
21975 SW 65th Ave,
Tualatin, OR 97062
of Operation: In season hours vary - check
Web site or call. Closed January-April.
Highlights: Country store, working farm,
u-pick berries, pumpkin patch, Christmas trees.
the country store one finds the wonders of Wilcott's touches on
the shelves and in the bakery case. She has worked hard to pull
together a creative assortment of seasonal decorations, local produce,
gourmet goodies, fresh apple cider and more. The bakery side of
the operation turns out baked from scratch pies everyday like marionberry,
raspberry and pumpkin as well as Lee Farms' signature apple cider
Lee Farms first throws open their 12 acres of berry fields to u-pickers
in June, juicy strawberries and raspberries hang on bushes waiting
to be harvested by parents and their children. For those not wanting
to do their own picking but still hoping for fresh berries the Lee
family offers picked day of packed berry flats to go. This is on
top of jams and jellies made from freshly picked berries. Those
desiring other berry types will be happy to know Lee Farms also
make available marionberry and boysenberry crops come July.
a brief lull in which peaches and super sweet corn are available
in the country store, October heralds the start of pumpkin season.
This time of year is one of the farm's biggest, according to Wilcott.
Lee Farms goes all out during this time of year, drawing from 20
acres or so of on-site pumpkins to create one heck of a pumpkin
patch. Operating hours are extended, a farm animal display/petting
zoo and hay maze open, hay and pony rides become available on the
weekends and children flock to the farm on school tours which send
every child home with a pumpkin.
late November and December, Christmas trees become the focus at
Lee Farms. Over 25 acres of trees and holiday decorations galore
in the country store help to set a festive mood. Fresh cut and u-cut
Nobles and Grand Firs are available for selection and the farm offers
a shaker to remove needles and bugs so you don't have a messy experience
at home later. Trees can be wrapped in soft twine for easier transport
and you can also take home a special tree stand which holds a large
volume of water and fits any size tree trunk.
true magic in Lee Farms, according to Wilcott, comes in just being
able to make an afternoon out of enjoying the farm's rural setting
so close to urban Portland.
just being able to come out of the city and being able to hang out
with your family," said the 25-year-old. "I couldn't sit
in an office all day. This is something probably in my blood and
what I like to do."
by Nino Marchetti, a free-lance writer based in Lake Oswego, OR.
Photos by Jason Tomczak