Cloud Mountain Fall Fruit Festival 2013
Category : On the Farm
Weather cooperated, and the day was reasonably warm and partly cloudy as we made our way to the annual Fall Fruit Festival at Cloud Mountain Farm Center near Everson. Cloud Mountain has been hosting this festival at the farm for more than 20 years, and our family looks forward to the event held in early October.
Several key elements go together to make the Festival the remarkable event it is. The centerpiece is a tented area where an incredible variety of fruits are available for guests to taste. Apples are the main feature, but you can also taste varieties of: quince, both wine and table grapes, plums, prunes, currants, gooseberries, pawpaws, josta berries, walnuts, akebia fruit, persimmons, medlars, cranberries, kiwi, blueberries, peaches, cherries, garlic, and both sweet and hot peppers.
All these varieties have been grown in this area, from Skagit County to southern British Columbia. Many are available for home orchards and gardens from the Cloud Mountain nursery. It’s an amazing assortment, and the ability to taste the fruit first makes it easier to choose what varieties a home gardener might like to take home.
This is especially important since fruit trees and berry canes require a long-term investment of time and space. For example, I enjoyed overhearing a conversation between a father and his daughter about the harvests they would get by the time she was a teenager from the small apple tree they were taking home.
Another regular feature of the Fall Fruit Festival is the Backyard Beans and Grain Project. Krista Rome brings the “best of the best” of bean and grain seeds she has trialed for the past several years as part of the Project.
In her fields near Everson Krista helps people learn how to grow and harvest these important sources of protein. She experiments with organic and heirloom varieties to find which will grow well consistently in our climate, regardless of whether the growing season is wet or dry, warm or cool, etc. Her primary goal is to do the research that will allow others to farm these staple storage foods or grow them at home successfully.
Good food to eat on site or take home for cooking and storage is another aspect of the Fall Fruit Festival. Mallard Ice Cream is on hand with special flavors just for the Festival. Notable this year were Aronia Berry, Red Star Peach, Lynden Blue Grape, and Pioneer Cornelian Cherry.
Dashi Noodle Bar also had a food stand on site. They were selling soft steamed buns in a wonderful assortment of both savory and sweet flavors.
Free apple cider was available if you were willing to crank a few turns on a cider press (or if you just asked nicely). Free carmel apples were also being handed out.
Kids could paint small terra cotta pots, and then plant small rosemary starts in them to take home. Between that, the hands-on cider making experience, the carmel apples, Julia’s Pumpkin Patch (u-pick), and the live music, all the kids were having a great time (including my grandson)!
Just before we left, I made a trip through the farm store to find something to feature for this week’s recipe. I chose something not always recognized as “fruit”–peppers. I confess I love peppers. I love the look of them, the smell of them, and especially the taste of them.
It took me awhile to decide whether to try sweet peppers or hot peppers (I don’t like too much heat). I finally chose some Krimzon Lees, a pepper labeled “sweet with just a little heat.” They turned out to be perfect! See the Cheese Stuffed Peppers recipe to find out how I prepared them.