Outside of Spokane, in an area called Green Bluff near Mead, you can find produce, cheese, farm animals and more, at more than 40 farms. You can easily spend a day here and not see it all.
If my experience at Walter’s Fruit Ranch in Green Bluff is typical of the other farms, you’re in for a real treat. My day started off with a yummy Greek quiche made with eggs, feta cheese, ham and green olives plus the flakiest, most buttery pastry crust I’ve ever tasted. I couldn’t get enough of the crust, so I ate a slice of apple pie for dessert. Kudos to the pie baker and co-owner Arlene Morrell. At one time or another, the café offers 32 different varieties of Arlene’s pies. Arlene or a baker she has shown the way makes them and freezes them; she says they taste better after freezing.
Fueled for the day, I hopped on the Fruit Loop Express, a tractor-train contraption, and headed for the fruit orchards where I discovered 22 varieties of apples, five varieties of peaches, three of apricots and cherries. When the fruit is in season, you can ride the Express into the orchards where the driver will deposit you in a prime spot and you pick all the fruit you want. The train continuously meanders along the same route through the orchard all day so that when you’re ready to leave, you get on and it takes you back to the farmhouse.
I visited in the fall so owner Mark Morrell who drove the Express that day let me shoot an apple out of an air gun aimed at a pumpkin. If I hit the pumpkin, I got to take another pumpkin home. No worries there – I don’t have very good aim.
While you’re there don’t forget to visit the gift shop, which sells some already picked produce, plus lovely home décor items.