Nothing says summer in Ashland like a bowl brimming with freshly picked apricots, cherries or other organic, seasonal fruit. Valley View Orchard north of town is the perfect place to access nature's candy and take in spellbinding views to boot.
Valley View Orchard is a mom-and-pop operation with a small cottage that serves as the main shop, fruit trees stretching as far as the eye can see and a friendly Labrador guard dog that wanders around the property licking customers to death.
Besides offering fruit for sale at the cottage, Valley View lets customers pick their own in the field. Bring your own bowls, buckets, truck beds if you please, and take to the ladders to nab the ripest pick. Currently in season are delicious apricots that cost $3.50 per handpicked pound, or $3 a pound if you buy 15 pounds or more. This is the largest crop the orchard owners have had in years, and they have many different varieties.
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If you're not the type for laboring in the sun, you can buy pre-picked apricots at $4.50 a pound, with the same 50 cent discount available for 15 pounds or more.
For a limited time, you can purchase frozen pitted pie cherries in the store for $5 a pound. You also can buy pitted sweet cherries for your eating enjoyment, which sell for $6 a pound. They sell fast, though, so hurry.
Valley View's hours can sometimes vary, but it generally is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Call ahead on the "Fruit Hotline" at 541-488-2840. If you can, bring in extra cartons or boxes to donate. You'll get better karma, and those poor, cartonless strangers will get more apricots.
Valley View Orchard is at 1800 North Valley View Road, not far from the north Interstate 5 interchange in Ashland.
Amelia Covert Zeve is an Ashland High School student and freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.