On the southeast side of Bend, just off Knott Road, is one of the best little gems in town—Farmer Brown's farm stand.
There's no sign showing the name of the market. The owners don't advertise the business around town. And the place is only open eight hours a week in winter.
I first heard about this off-the-beaten-path store at a dinner party. A friend was sharing the carrot honey made with Central Oregon pollen she'd bought there that afternoon.
It was the best honey I had ever tasted.
This was why, despite that it was naptime and my kids were super fussy, I was determined to finally get to Farmer Brown's last weekend. I'd already been by twice but had missed their open hours and had to turn around at the stand's big green gates and go home.
But this time the gates were open! It's pretty big for a farmstand. In the summertime it's a large tent plus a roughly 2,200-square-foot building that houses three walk-in coolers.
My kids made a beeline for the boxes of apples at their eye level and began carting them around every time I turned my back. Even though this kind of thing makes me super anxious about getting eye rolls from other customers and cold shoulders from shop owners, Wendi Lusk, the gal who works at the stand, was all about it.
She actually gave my girls a big box of apples to transfer into a bin. Sweet.
This freed me up to take in just how much this place has to offer.
Beets, carrots, potatoes and apples all for $1 a pound. Firm, crisp onions. Hard, crunchy cabbages. Big red bell peppers. Garlic. Shallots. Kale. Broccoli. It was like a blast of Willamette Valley summertime on a cold March day in the High Desert.
Then there was the citrus. Grapefruits three for $2. Deep orange Satsumas, limes and lemons. They all come from Farmer Brown's weekly roundup in California, which is actually contracted to 24 Carrot Produce in the winter months.
By mid-May they'll be making their own runs again to the Willamette Valley to Hood River to Southern Washington and begin offering fresh-cut flowers along with just about every fruit and vegetable in season.
Organic produce is not the market's priority. Instead, farmer Becky Brown—yes, Farmer Brown is a lady—said the stand focuses on high-quality produce at the right price point.
"We want our customers to come back," she said. "And we have a really loyal following. When we open at noon on Friday, there's usually two or three cars in the parking lot."
These followers are buying local eggs, super lean Central Oregon-raised beef and berries from all over. They're also sampling some of the hot homemade soup Lisk serves in a crockpot in the corner when she's working at the stand.
By the time I left, we'd eaten multiple pear samples, had several honey sticks, a cup of soup and spent less than $30 on a big box of produce, a two-pound top round and a pint-jar of some of that special Central Oregon carrot pollen honey.
Lusk even washed all the stickiness off my kid's hands at a water pump before we got in the car.
12 to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday through mid-May
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in summer
20950 Knott Rd.