By Melissa Wynn

The farm-to-fork movement has inspired many of us to get to know our local farmers and see where and who grows our produce. Not only can you gain this comforting knowledge around the valley, several of the local farmers will even let you come for a visit to actually pick the produce yourself.

Johnson U-Pick Farm is one such favorite, located at 113 Higgins Avenue between Gridley and Live Oak and welcomes guests Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8am-3pm. Owner Mark Johnson encourages patrons to call +1.530.846.5871 anytime with questions, to get directions, or to request large produce orders. He offers blueberries, strawberries, cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, grapes, plums, okra, eggplant, cucumbers, summer squash, peppers and tomatoes. Keep in mind each of these are ripe at different times throughout the season so call or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/johnsonupickfarm to see what is ready today. You can also visit them online at johnsonupickfarm.com. Sturdy shoes (not sandals) are recommended for those wishing to pick. Pre-picked produce is also available for sale at this family friendly working farm.

The first week in August brings the You Pick Peach Sale to the Chico State University Farm 8am-noon. For $1.25 per pound visitors can pick peaches from trees that have been pruned for easy reach, no ladder required. Please bring your own box or preferred container for transporting your fruit home. Pails are provided for picking but must remain onsite for future pickers. Come early to 311 Nicholas C Shouten Ln for the best selection. www.csuchico.edu/ag/farm

Throughout the Lassen and Plumas National Forests, especially along California Highway 70 between Chico and Quincy, blackberries grow wild and ripen later in the season the higher in elevation you travel. Clear through Labor Day weekend and sometimes even a week later, the sweet and juicy treats can be gathered by the bucket full. From Belden to Caribou and all through Humbug Valley pickers with purple fingers wander the back

roads in true hunter/gatherer mode searching the sweetest and fattest blackberries for their pie and jam making aspirations. Paradise and Chico residents also enjoy a good pick a bit earlier in the season along Butte Creek near Covered Bridge. Pack up the buckets and your good jeans, (blackberries bushes have thorns) and join in the harvest this fall. Please remember to check that you are on public lands when picking wild berries.

Several family owned and operated small farms dot the highways and by-ways all over Mountain Valley Living’s territory from Redding to Marysville and Susanville to Chico. While not all allow you to pick your own produce, several offer road side stands where you can find everything from fresh produce and a wide variety of tree nuts to local honey, fresh eggs and even homemade jams, beauty products, candies and crafts. California State Highway 99 from Red Bluff to Chico through Los Molinos offers several stands along with a beautiful drive through the orchards and farmlands of the area. Below are just a few of the local’s favorites. Drive by or visit them on Facebook and see what they are offering today.

Hawes Rivered Acres

6149 Deschutes Rd, Anderson

 

Julia’s Fruit Stand,

11475 CA HWY 99E, Los Molinos

www.facebook.com/juliasfruitstand14

Bianchi Orchards

10337 Golden State Hwy, Los Molinos

www.bianchiorchards.com

Noble Orchards

7050 Pentz Rd, Paradise

www.facebook.com/NobleOrchards

Burlison Fruit Stand

24651 Kansas Ave, Los Molinos

www.facebook.com/burlison.fruitstand

Pick-your-own blueberry patches can be found from Forest Ranch to the farm stand rich Corning area that offer ripe fruit for the picking in May and June. We look forward to a future visit and story on these in our Spring 2018 edition. Blueberries are a super food. A Springtime favorite that freezes easily to enjoy all year round.

Nothing says farm to table more than picking or choosing produce at the farm yourself and preparing it for your table the same day. That is one of the great privileges we are afforded for choosing Northern California as our home. Wander this season and meet the farmers, browse the farmer’s markets, then pick and choose your favorite things to eat ripe from the vine, bush or tree. Be happy and healthy, NorCal style.

PEACH  BLUEBERRY CRISP

INGREDIENTS (6 Servings)

Filling

4 cups peeled sliced peaches

1 cup blueberries

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon McCormick®

Pure Vanilla Extract

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons McCormick®

Cinnamon, Ground

Streusel Topping

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon McCormick®

Cinnamon, Ground

6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. For the Peach Blueberry Filling, toss fruit with lemon juice and vanilla in large bowl. Mix cornstarch and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in small bowl. Sprinkle over fruit, toss to coat well. Spoon into lightly greased 11x7-inch baking dish.

For the Streusel Topping, mix flour, oats, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle evenly over fruit.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe Courtesy of McCormick.

NO BAKE BLACKBERRY PIE

INGREDIENTS 8 Servings

4 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped

2 cups fresh blackberries, divided

1/4 cup sugar

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Lemon Extract

1 prepared graham cracker crust (6 ounces)

PREPARATION

Melt chocolate as directed on package. Set aside.Mash 1 1/2 cups of the blackberries with fork or potato masher in large bowl. Add cream cheese and sugar; beat with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended and smooth. Add heavy cream and extract; beat until smooth. Gradually beat in melted chocolate until well blended. Spoon mixture into crust.Refrigerate 3 hours or until set. Garnish with remaining 1/2 cup blackberries. Store leftover pie in refrigerator.

Recipe Courtesy of McCormick.

HONEY JALAPEÑO STRAWBERRY POPPERS

INGREDIENTS 12 (1 strawberry) Servings

2 ounces (1/4 package)

cream cheese, softened

1 medium jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract

12 large strawberries

1 shortbread cookie, crushed

PREPARATION

Mix cream cheese, jalapeño, honey and vanilla in small bowl until well blended. Set aside. Stem and core strawberries. Fill strawberries with cream cheese mixture. Place strawberries in jalapeño popper tray. Grill over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until strawberries are warmed. Top with crushed cookies.

Recipe Courtesy of McCormick.