Oregon’s Hood River Valley is hauntingly beautiful when fall takes hold. The region shows its autumnal burnt orange and yellow-colored foliage, and fresh fruit unfurls from the land’s historic and fertile farms.
Perhaps one of the sweetest of fresh fruit settings is at Mt. View Orchards. The bucolic farm stretches across 50 acres with Mt. Hood rising to the south and the Middle Fork Hood River flowing to the west. Owner and farmer Katrina McAlexander grew up here and learned about farming with her parents and grandparents, who bought the farm in the 1930s. She knew early on she was a part of something special.
At 25 years of age, Katrina began saving $200 a month with the expressed goal of buying her family’s farm. In 2014, she had saved enough and left her city job as a nurse practitioner to become the owner and the third generation to keep the legacy going. In her first year, she brought ideas for modernization while maintaining the farm’s celebrated outdoor living room feel, opening an event and wedding space and repurposing a section of the shop to a cidery, with a tasting room to be added in 2019.
“We are weaving together farming, fermentation and hospitality,” says McAlexander. “We want people to make a connection to the land and to fresh, local foods.”
Mt. View Orchards sits on the southwest section of Hood River County’s Fruit Loop, which was established in 1992 to support local farmers and promote sustainable agricultural diversity. Katrina and her family grow a lot: Cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, grapes, blueberries, quince and pumpkins. But the real golden ticket is in the more than 80 varieties of apples with peak season occurring between mid-September through October. The orchard has rows and rows of peach, apple and pear trees designated for u-pick at a discounted rate per pound.
“It’s a dream come true to meet and see generations of families that keep coming back,” she says. “It makes our farmers smile. Gratitude is my anchor.”
That gratitude extends to generosity: Mt. View Orchards also donates to the local food bank, various school lunch programs, and offers the space to community partners and nonprofits.
“There’s nothing as satisfying as tasting an apple right from the branch,” says McAlexander. “It’s one of the reasons we invite people to the land. Everyone should experience it. In a region with wealth, there is still food insecurity, so we try to shoot the gap by sharing our food and farm forward.”
Fall Picking Tips
1. Bring Your Own Bag or Basket
Save the planet and your local farmer’s extra cost.
2. Take Your Time
Allow yourself to truly see the scene. Learn about the farm you’re visiting. Make connections with the people and farmers growing the fruit.
3. Go Often
Don’t just take one trip. Farmers rely on their communities to show up and purchase food to keep growing sustainable and healthy food.
6670 Trout Creek Ridge Road, Mt. Hood, OR
July–November, seven days a week: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Monday and 12–5 p.m. Sundays