Recently, a friend’s Facebook post sent my husband and me out to West Valley to find the Ahtanum Berry Patch. After a few wrong turns we came upon their sign at Ahtanum and 74th directing us to the Weavers’ farm.
When we got out of the car, we instantly experienced a déjà vu moment. It dawned on us we’d been to this farm many years ago when our youngest daughter had a playdate with her middle school classmate. Her parents operated a large chicken farm on the property.
Today, Katie and Sam Weaver are the fifth generation to own the property. Sam farms a wide variety of berries on five acres, including thorn-less blackberries, red, gold and black raspberries, strawberries and gooseberries.
Three years ago, their daughter Naomi came up with the idea of selling berries and bake goods on the property. She convinced her mom to take on the baking while she ran the stand.
The outdoor bakeshop opens around Easter and runs until early fall, offering a variety of freshly picked berries, and a selection of desserts and baked goods. We couldn’t resist purchasing the famous cinnamon rolls — and it only took one bite to discover that they were heavenly delicious.
The Weavers moved their family back to Yakima in 2001 and bought the property, which included a classic 1920s-era farmhouse that has been home to five generations of Sam’s family. It has gone through a few renovations over the years, including remodeling the kitchen and replacing the roof.
These days they enjoy outdoor family dinners on their large covered patio just off the kitchen. They also have a spacious side yard where their many grandchildren can play. Katie has a green thumb, too, and keeps two window boxes near the front door overflowing with beautiful blooms all summer long.
When moving to the property, Sam kept in mind a childhood dream of what he wanted to cultivate. In 2012 he took out all the trees, replacing them with a wide variety of thorn-less berries.
“It’s a lot of work, but Sam enjoys it,” Katie said. “The berry crop took three years to be ready to sell,” Sam added.
Their berries can be found in-season at farmers markets in Roslyn, Ellensburg, Kennewick and Yakima.
It was Naomi who proposed the idea of selling berries and baked goods at the outdoor stand on their property. She previously worked as an accountant, but decided she wanted to help her family with the running and managing of the bakeshop.
The business side of Naomi’s background has her wearing many hats, and it’s obvious that she loves meeting people and introducing them to the wide array of delicious items they offer for sale. All 10 cousins have taken turns working at the stand and four still work there on a weekly basis.
Meantime, Katie stays busy creating the delicious baked goods in the kitchen. However, as the business has grown, she’s discovered she definitely needs more room. The family hopes to build a commercial kitchen closer to the fruit stand.
Katie is no stranger to living on a farm. While she was growing up, her parents owned Harris Farms on Englewood Avenue and she remembers selling fresh farm eggs.
The highlight of our visit was when Sam and Katie took us on a grand tour of their extensive berry patch. The sound of birds cawing kept getting louder as we approached the long rows of berries.
We asked Sam what all the noise was and he quickly explained. It was an audio system that uses “real” distress bird calls to trigger a primal fear and flee response to scare away birds from the fruit ripening in the berry patch. The racket it makes is quite disconcerting because it broadcasts a cacophony of bird calls, but it seems to ward them off.
As we walked down each row, Sam not only told us a lot about cultivating berries, he insisted we try each variety.
We discovered that the berries had a wonderful sweetness that you don’t often get from berries at the supermarket. And with so many different varieties, no two tasted the same. It’s so much fun to learn something new from an expert, and Sam and Katie made our visit memorable.
Obviously, the couple hires a crew to pick the bulk of the berries when they ripen. However, if you want to have a fun family experience, their U-pick option offers a chance for customers and their families to pick as well.
When they’re done, customers take their haul to the fruit stand to weigh and pay. Hopefully, they’ll also indulge in purchasing some of the mouthwatering baked goods and desserts that include cinnamon rolls, lemon bars, blueberry scones, muffins, raspberry oat bars, brownies, blueberry shortcake and more.
I’m so glad my Facebook friend tipped me off about the Ahtanum Berry Patch and that my husband and I were curious enough to find their farm.
I also want to thank the Weavers for their passion for farming, because many of us take for granted the hard work our farm families do every day to bring delicious, fresh produce to our tables. And long live Katie’s incredible cinnamon rolls to which I fear I’ve grown addicted.
I pray my husband has hidden the bathroom scale.