On your next trip to Klamath Falls, chances are good you’ll enjoy a meal at one of our local restaurants, drive past working farms en route to the likes of Crater Lake National Park, and grab a quick snack from the store after a fun day of exploring Lava Beds National Monument. Wherever your Klamath adventures take you, you’ll almost certainly cross paths with the farmers, growers, producers, makers, and dreamers who contribute so much to our region’s love affair with fresh, seasonal fare. After all, the Klamath Basin alone is home to roughly 1,800 producers who grow and supply cattle for beef and milk, fresh eggs, alfalfa for local livestock, and savory fruits and vegetables all year long. To help you learn more about the flavors of the region, we’ve put together a guide that breaks down our biggest crops, insight from the growers who make it happen, and suggestions for where to enjoy locally grown items on your next trip to Klamath County.
Crops Grown in Klamath County
Every year, Klamath Basin farmers and ranchers grow, tend to, and produce dozens of agricultural offerings. Here's a brief rundown of the region's output.
Cattle and calves: According to the United States Department of Agriculture, cattle and calves are the most common agricultural product to come out of the Klamath Basin—selling more than $52 million worth of beef each year. Funny enough, milk from cows is the third most common item produced in the region annually.
Potatoes: You'll find local potatoes more often than not around Klamath; the crop grows on about 7,000 acres—an area that’s eight-and-a-half times the size of Central Park in New York City—and is considered fresh and in-season between September and June.
Root vegetables: Carrots, beets, turnips, and other root vegetables are a common crop across Klamath County—and are typically available between March and November.
Greens: Fresh lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula, and other greens are available almost all year long at markets and restaurants throughout the Klamath Basin; leafy greens are in-season between February and November, while Asian greens can be had between May and November.
Community, Sense of Place Drive Local Farmers
We talked with a few farmers about what makes the Klamath Basin such a special place to farm—and what inspires them to provide an abundance of fresh flavors to the community.
Time and again, those farmers cited the community that’s developed around local agriculture—whether it’s the popular Klamath Falls Farmers Market (which hosts up to 60 vendors on any given weekend), Klamath Grown (a group of ranchers, farmers, and producers who strive to showcase the region’s wide-ranging output), or Oregon State University Extension Service (which works with producers to bolster local output, improve production, promote environmental sustainability, and more). Dana McCray, farm manager with the Klamath Falls-based Danish Honey Farms, says that sense of community is helpful to newer producers such as herself. “The overall local community in the small farm arena has been very supportive,” she says.
Katie Swanson, owner and operator of Sweet Union Farm, echoes that sentiment. Swanson is a first-generation farmer who saw the pursuit as a novel way to build connections with the broader community; her farm provides squash to the Klamath County School District, sells direct to consumers through the innovative Klamath Grown Online Market, and even provides fresh produce to Rodeos Pizza & Saladeria in downtown Klamath Falls. "You see these families every single week; you're giving them food, and they're talking about the vegetables they got last week, what their kids like, and what they didn't," Swanson says. "And you really see the impact.”
Swanson also says that emphasis on local food helps create a sense of place—and a deeper connection with the land—for locals and visitors alike. "Part of that is knowing," she says. "Knowing that they're eating food that was grown where they live—and the land they live on can produce food to support them. I think that's actually a really big deal."
Where Can You Try Klamath County Crops and Produce?
You don’t have to visit a farm to taste the bounty of Klamath County. Here are a few easy ways to sample the flavors of the region on your next visit:
Klamath Falls Farmers Market: Every Saturday between late May and the end of October, downtown Klamath Falls comes alive with the Klamath Falls Farmers Market. All summer long, the open-air market features dozens of local farms selling an ever-changing lineup of fresh, seasonal produce. Of course, you'll also find plenty of baked goods, honey, arts and crafts, and fresh food from creative producers, as well.
Klamath Grown Online Market: Klamath Grown—a regional collective of ranchers, farmers, growers, and more—makes it easy to enjoy fresh, seasonal fare via the Klamath Grown Online Market. Through the online market, visitors simply choose the items they'd like to purchase (with seasonal fruits and veggies, meats, eggs, herbs, and other pantry items available from local producers), and pick their order up the following week. In most cases, the produce is cultivated just one or two days before order pickup, ensuring the freshest possible items for customers.
Eat Local directory: Klamath Grown has also put together a guide to the locally grown fare of the Klamath Basin—including wine, honey, baked goods, plant starts, produce, and more—along with recommendations for where to find those items. These suggestions range from local farmers markets to cutting-edge restaurants; the woman-owned Terra Veg Vegan Eatery, for instance, sources microgreens for its Lebanese dishes from Danish Honey Farms and salad mix from Sweet Union Farm.
On November 29, 1872, a group of Modoc people—along with their leader Kintpuash—clashed with U.S. troops near the Lost River in southern Oregon. Lives were lost on both sides of the battle, and in the aftermath, the Modocs retreated into the nearby lava beds—marking the start of war that would drag on for five bloody months. Decades of animosity built toward that moment, and the repercussions would be felt in the years that followed. But the Modoc War is an important chapter in Klamath Basin history, and it’s worth exploring today to understand its impact on those who perished and everyone who felt the fallout. So to help you better grasp the Modoc War, we’re looking at the historic clash and offering suggestions for diving deeper into the conflict today—whether at a quiet museum, the Lava Beds National Monument, or via a driving tour that takes you into the heart of regional history.