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Experience agriculture

The Yakima Valley is all about agriculture. We are the leading hop-growing region in the world, producing 75 percent of the U.S. hop crop in 2017. Washington produces more premium wine than any other state except California, and most of those grapes are grown in the Yakima and Tri-Cities areas. We produce more apples than any other state, harvesting about 100 million boxes of apples annually, each weighing about 40 pounds. That's a whole lot of apples! We're the second- largest mint-growing area in the nation, and Yakima County leads the state in production of sweet cherries and pears. Not to mention the abundance of peaches, berries, asparagus, and just about every other kind of produce you can imagine. They all thrive in our rich soil under acres of sunshine.

In the Yakima Valley, farm-to-table or fresh off the farm isn't just a trend, it's been a way of life for more than a century. Read on for activities in the Yakima Valley you can do to learn about, experience and enjoy the region's agricultural bounty.

LEARN

The Central Washington Agricultural Museum features scores of displays showcasing farm life over the years, more than 150 antique tractors, and tons of historic farm machinery as well as nature paths around the building.

* Central Washington Agricultural Museum, 4508 Main St., Union Gap, 509-457-8735, centralwaagmuseum.org.

The Yakima Valley Museum has a number of agriculture- related displays, including one of the nation's largest collections of apple box labels. The collection, which features more than 3,000 different labels, was donated by avid collector Jim Rose.

* Yakima Valley Museum, 2105 Tieton Drive., Yakima, 509-248-0747, yakimavalleymuseum.org.

SEE

Take in the sights, sounds and smells of the farms and facilities that grow and process the agricultural commodities of the Yakima Valley.

* Allan Brothers, 31 Allan Road, Naches. To arrange a tour, contact Danielle Vincent at 425-563-3141 or at Danielle.Vincent@AllanBrosFruit.com.

The Naches-based company is a vertically integrated operation that grows, packs and ships fruit around the world. The company offers tours by appointment of both its packing operation and its apple and cherry orchards (during harvest).

* Tieton Farm & Creamery, 18796 Summitview Road, Tieton, 509-406-3344, https://www.facebook.com/TietonFarmAndCreamery.

The 21-acre dairy has gained acclaim for its artisan cheese products. In past years, owners Lori and Ruth Babcock have offered scheduled tours of the solar-powered farm during the warmer months. As of the writing of this piece, co-owner Lori Babcock said that they are in the process of scheduling this year's tour dates. Babcock recommends watching the dairy's Facebook page for updates.  

* Selah Ridge Lavender Farm, 330 Rankin Road, Selah, 509-930-2910 or see selahridgelavenderfarm.com.

The farm's Lavender Harvest Days is held every year on the second weekend in July. Pick fresh lavender, and buy plants, dried lavender, skin care and home items. The event also features local artisans, wreath-making, essential oil distilling and music.

* Thompson's Farm Pumpkin Patch, 9535 Old Naches Highway, Naches., thompsonsfarm.com.

All through October, Thompson's opens its pumpkin patch to the public on weekends. Pick a pumpkin, eat a famous pumpkin doughnut, and see the pumpkin cannons fire. Also featuring pig races, a corn maze, hay rides and a play area for kids.

 PICK

Starting when strawberries first ripen in late May and running all the way through gourd season in the fall, you'll find farms where you can pick your own produce. Most post harvest schedules and hours online.

* Bill's Berry Farm, 3674 N. County Line Road, Grandview, billsberryfarm.com, 509-882-3200.

* West Valley U-Pick, 11901 Zier Road, Yakima, yakimaberries.com, 509-945-5406.

* Ahtanum Berry Patch, 2811 S. 74th Ave., Yakima, 509-731-4094.  

* Thompson's Farm, 9535 Old Naches Highway, Naches, thompsonsfarm.com.

* Krueger Peppers, 462 Knight Lane, Wapato, kruegerpeppergardens.weebly.com, 509-877-3677 (phone after July 31).

* Blueberry Hill Berries, 1520 Wapato Road, Wapato, bhberries.com, 509-961-3001.

BUY

Roadside produce stands are generally open from May through October and feature all the fresh produce of each season, with some also offering fresh pies, baked goods, candy, and various fruit and vegetable preserves.

* Johnson Orchards, 4906 Summitview Avenue, Yakima, johnsonorchardsfruit.com, 509-966-7479.

* Jones Farms has two stands, at 2020 Thacker Road in Granger, and in Yakima at 410 S. 51st Ave. Call 509-829-3002 or visit jonesfarmsinc.com.  

* Precision Fruit & Antiques, 101 E. Selah Road, Yakima, 509-457-5963.

* Ahtanum Berry Patch, 2811 South 74th Avenue, Yakima, 509-731-4094.  

* McIlrath Family Farms, 10 Old Naches Highway, Yakima, 509-480-2676.

* Thompson's Market, 9950 Old Naches Highway, Naches, thompsonsfarm.com.

* Washington's Fruit Place and Gift Shop at Barrett Orchards 1209 Peck's Canyon Road, Yakima, fruitplace.com, 509-966-1275.

* Imperial's Garden, 4817 Lateral A Road, Wapato, imperialsgarden.com, 509-877-2766.

* Yakama Nation Fruit & Produce, 74610 Highway 97, Wapato, ynle.com, 509-865-5121.

* E.W. Brandt and Sons/Rembrandt Fruit, 561 Ragan Road, Wapato, 509-877-3193.

EAT

Yakima Valley restaurants, not surprisingly, have started to incorporate more local produce into their menu offerings. That farm-to-table philosophy is not limited to upscale restaurants. Here are a few that highlight the best of what Yakima Valley growers offer.

* Los Hernandez Tamales, 3706 Main St., Union Gap, and 6411 W. Nob Hill Blvd., Suite 102, Yakima.

This James Beard Foundation award winner has gained national acclaim for its asparagus and pepper jack tamales, which are available fresh while asparagus is in season.  

* Bron Yr Aur, 12160 U.S. Highway 12, Naches, and Hoptown Wood Fired Pizza, 2560 Donald Wapato Road, Wapato.

The Naches brewery incorporates its beer, brewed on site, into its pizza dough recipe. Meanwhile Hoptown, which started out as a mobile food vendor, incorporates hops into its pizza dough.

* Cowiche Canyon Kitchen, 202 E. Yakima Ave., Yakima; Provisions, 2710 Terrace Heights Drive, Yakima; and Crafted, 22 N. First St. Yakima.

Several restaurants, including these three popular Yakima eateries, frequently change their menus to highlight offerings from local producers. In addition, Provisions' market offers products from local businesses, such as Tieton Farm & Creamery.