You might think Red Delicious or Fuji when you think apples, but Queener Farm, an apple orchard located about 20 miles southeast of Salem, has more than 100 mature varieties of heirloom apples. It wants to show them off.
Heirloom apples are small scale, older varieties not generally in large commercial production.
This will be the first season that boxes, previously delivered only to Portland, Salem and Independence, will be available in Eugene and Springfield through the farm’s Heirloom Apple Club program. Through this apple club, subscribers can receive a taste of the large variety of apples that are available at Queener Farm.
These heirloom apples have a history: The varieties have been saved over generations, and are not engineered for certain tastes or looks.
Jeannie Berg, a seeder at the farm and the founder of the Heirloom Apple Club, says there are two different kinds of boxes that one can choose from, differing in size and variety.
“The sampler boxes are about exploring different flavors. Family boxes are for people who like to bake and sauce,” she says. “You can get to know the apples, it’s quite the wide array.”
Berg says she anticipates the first boxes going out at the end of July with the start of the apple season. They are hand-selected by farmers.
“Every Monday we walk through the farm and decide what goes in the box this week. There’s always kind of a favorite of the week,” Berg says.
Her favorite? It depends. “In August, when it’s hot out, there’s this one apple called the Alkmene; it tastes a lot like a lime soda. It’s always the best thing when it’s hot out.”
Besides the Heirloom Apple Club, Queener Farm has a variety of activities for orchard visitors to enjoy. Berg mentions “farm stand Saturdays,” where people can wander around the orchard and drink freshly pressed cider. This typically goes for the whole season, from July until Thanksgiving, Berg says.
Berg mentions that bridge closures in Portland, which will amp up metro-area traffic, are going to make it more difficult for the farm to deliver there. Because of this, she thinks focusing her efforts south, on Eugene, is a good idea.
“It’s our first time in Eugene and we’re really excited about it,” she says.
The sampler boxes are $150 for eight boxes during the season, and the family boxes cost $260, but you can get a discount if you go to the farm to pick them up — a good opportunity to check out the orchard and all its unique tastes.
“I remember my first season at the Queener Farm. The flavors of the apples surprised and wowed me almost every day,” Berg says. “I’d had a lot of apples, and cared for an old orchard with several heirloom varieties, but the apples at the Queener were a flavor adventure that was truly amazing.”
Queener Farms is located near Salem. More information can be found at queenerfarm.com.