Sauvie Island

A field of strawberry dreams

Memorial Day for me now has become my strawberry picking day. Two years in a row makes a tradition. I drove to Sauvie Island, just north of Portland on the Columbia River. It has several U-pick farms. This year I picked my berries at Sauvie Island Farms.

Half of the people around me were speaking a language other than English. I heard Hindi, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Japanese. Family fruit picking clearly is popular with Portland’s East and South Asian families. Strawberries signal the end of spring and beginning of summer, and they taste so darn good.

Looking at all the little kids being pulled by their well-off moms and dads made me think of all the kids who are not that much older working in the fields with their families in our land of plenty, for up to 10 hours a day. Sometimes, it is fate of birth that separates one world from another. I am glad I never had to and do not have to do this for a living. It is incredibly hard work bending over, sorting through fruit, gently picking it one by one. Something to think about as you pick out your fruit at your local store. Someone always had to pick it.

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Sauvie Island river surf

North of Portland, you will find Sauvie Island, a stretch of land that is both a fish and wildlife area and superb farmland. About 30 mammals can be found here, not to mention dozens of different bird species. Today I spied osprey to egrets. It is also a layover spot for migratory birds on their passages north and south.

One of the nicest sections of this popular getaway from Portland are the beaches that line the Columbia River. No doubt Native Americans fished and hunted here for thousands of years. Today, you will find residents from the Portland area trying to stay cool.

The sandy stretches are superb. You can see the freighter traffic pass by, to the ports of Portland and Vancouver, where there are large grain silos and shipping docks. When the big ships pass by, they of course leave some powerful wakes that create micro surf on the beach. It is a pretty fun thing to do on a hot day, and everyone I saw was having a great time.

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)


Strawberry fields for picking

Paying tribute to The Beatles and picking fresh Shuksan strawberries makes for a nice combo. I visited Kruger’s Farm this weekend on Sauvie Island, near Portland. The owners told me this has been the earliest harvest they can ever remember. Definitely another signal of climate change in the Northwest.

A final takeaway I always get from u-pick experiences is how hard manual farm labor is. Imagine doing this for 12 hours a day? It is always important to make the connection between the food you put on your plate and the field it came from.