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Family-owned apple store, orchard bring joy to many

(Jennifer Priest Mitchell is a freelance writer in Beaverton. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

If you buy your apples at Haggen's or Albertson's, you might have tasted the fruit from local growers at Oregon Heritage Farms.

Kim McLennan, who married into this family-owned-and-run farm 21 years ago, can tell you these apples are special because they're grown with love. The apples are unique because they're grown in a most unusual way that European farmers strapped for space use: dwarf trees are grown with the use of wires.

'This gives us more yield per acre,' McLennan said.

Her father-in-law, who started Heritage Farms with his son more than two decades ago, saw this style of apple growing while visiting Belgium and decided to implement it here.

'We actually got some of our Jonagold trees from a neat farm (in Belgium),' McLennan shared.

Oregon Heritage Farms is located just 8 miles west of Washington Square Mall, in the Scholls area. While they are not a u-pick farm, they do offer tours of their orchards and packing and shipping facilities. McLennan said, 'We give tours almost daily this time of year. The younger kids are mainly interested in the apples themselves and our store, but older children and adults find the packing industry interesting.'

All of the apples are handpicked, and each year the farm hires 60 to 100 people at the end of August for temporary employment as they harvest the fruit. In addition to growing Jonagold apples, the farm also grows Gala and Honey Crisp apples, among others.

'Honey Crisp is the most popular type of apple in the country right now,' McLennan said. 'It was engineered at the University of Minnesota five years ago. They are crisp, juicy and sweet, and are great for baking, cooking or just eating. They are red and green in color and are sort of an all-purpose apple.'

To help understand their taste, she said that Jonagolds are more tart than the Honey Crisps, and that Gala apples are a very sweet eating apple.

McLennan also said that the farm started because her father-in-law and her husband wanted something to do together.

'They planted some apple trees on 10 acres and it just kept growing. We kept growing and growing, and my mother-in-law ran the store for a while,' she said. 'We do all of the packing and shipping ourselves. We have about 10 year-round employees.

'My 17-year old son and my 15-year old daughter have worked in the store with me. I just love having them there … though I am not always sure if they want to be there. Whether they'll take it over when we're through with it … I don't know, but they seem to enjoy it.'

Kim is, as she said, 'almost an Oregonian … I came here from California when I was 3 months old.'

She is proud that her husband and both of their children are native Oregonians, all born at Good Samaritan Hospital.

When asked what she likes about living where she does, Kim joyfully shared, 'I like that we're out in the country, but yet so close to town … to the city. We have a wonderful community … a strong community, and I really like that.'

Oregon Heritage Farms is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They will have several family events this autumn, including an Apple Festival on Oct. 14, during which the ski teams of Aloha and Southridge High Schools will raise funds.

They will also host the Scholls Country Festival on Oct. 7.

For more information on the store, the orchard or tours, call Oregon Heritage Farms at 503-628-2775.