Visitors to Eastern Oregon interested in fresh fruit or even picking their own will find Thomas Orchards in Kimberly the perfect destination.

Fruit orchards along the fertile banks of the North Fork of the John Day River near Kimberly date back more than a century. Kimberly is a rural ranch community in remote northcentral Oregon with a small country store and post office.

W.B. and Emily Thomas began acquiring acreage from Oren Kimberly’s orchard in 1947. Today, the Jeff and Laura Thomas family owns and operates 100 acres with a diverse crop of fruit trees.

The micro climate in the river valley at 1,800 feet features daytime summer highs similar to fruit-growing areas to the north, so harvest dates in Kimberly usually align with those at orchards in the Hood River and The Dalles areas.

Thomas Orchards grows a variety of fruits, including cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, pears and apples. They offer a selection of certified organic fruits. The fruit stand features fruit butters, dried fruits, jams, spreads and applesauce. They ran out of syrups this year.

The orchards opened to the public June 23. The fruit stand will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week through September and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays in October. They also operate a fruit stand in Great Falls, Montana.

Cherries are available from the end of June to end of July, peaches from the end of July to mid-September, nectarines from the end of July to first part of September, plums from mid-July to mid-August, pears from mid-August to mid-September and apples from mid-August to the end of October. Apricots will not be available this year.

Visitors are welcome to purchase fruit that has been picked and packed, or they can pick their own. U-pickers just sign in at the fruit stand, borrow a ladder if needed and bring the fruit back to the stand for weighing.

Directions: To get to Thomas Orchards, drive to Kimberly on Highway 19 and turn east about half a mile on Highway 402. To reach someone at the fruit stand, call 541-934-2870.

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