YACHATS RIVER — Irene Bailey exclaimed over giant cabbages in the gardens at Forks Farm, where jellies, produce and flowers were on offer but hoards of birds had damaged the blueberry crop for which the farm is locally known.
“I love to garden at home,” Bailey said. “I’m always on the lookout for new ideas.”
Bailey was one of hundreds streaming into the valley on Saturday for Farm Tour, where seven farms showcased everything from homemade drinks to produce, crafts, grass-fed beef and farm-raised pork and the chance to get eye-level with a llama or touch a baby peacock.
Catherine Lucido, who owns Forks with Rick Taves, started Farm Tour a decade ago because she thought it would be a fun way to draw the community together.
“Some people have come and gone but it’s gotten bigger every year,” said Lucido, who was busy selling cabbages and flowers in her yard while chatting about bugs and other farm pests with visitors on the lookout for gardening tips.
Elaine McNichols and StarShine Farm have been a haven for peacocks, rescued llamas and alpacas since 2005. Awed youngsters dreamed of having their own petting zoo while parents bought colorful peacock feathers.
At Yaquina Nursery & Greenhouse, visitors steps into massive greenhouses and guffawed at the expanses of cacti and succulents as the farm debunked any myth that coastal weather and cacti aren’t a match. The successful enterprise, launched by Roy and Geraldine Foss in 1968, delivers throughout the western states.
At Nancy Kromer’s ranch, the last stop was the first for many visitors who run the tour in reverse, starting at the top of the river and following the water back down. Kromer had a wide selection of jams, jellies and baked goods on offer, table clothes spread in the shade of a huge cedar and benches set up so people could enjoy the quiet babble of the river and the easy sound of live music.
In a living room where time has stopped and an immense cello is planted firmly on the carpet, Kromer ended the day with a group of friends doing a count of the day’s earnings while the smell of history and pies wafted from the kitchen.
Step back in time, slow down, soothe the nerves and take in the season’s bounty — that was the theme for a celebration that hasn’t take long to become a quintessential one for this quiet valley.