My first encounter with Mt. Hope Farms fruit spreads and the absolutely lovely Ellis family happened at the 2015 Wedge Cheese Festival in SE Portland. I was astounded by the full flavor and amazing fruit quality of what they produce and was instantly a fan! This week I was excited to head out to Molalla, Oregon on a bright October day to walk around the farm with Mike and Laura chatting about life and what the future holds for Mt. Hope Farms.
With fruit from their farm and some from trusted neighbors Laura and Mike Ellis are quietly creating Good Food Award winners (2016, 2017, and 2018) on the farm that Mike’s grandparents bought over 50 years ago. This generation of the Ellis family has lived on the farm since 2014 and is combining the existing fruit with some new unique crops - Haskap berries and Aronia berries. Mike talked about these fruits, which have superfood qualities such as decreasing inflammation and lowering blood sugar. Laura has added frozen Aronia berries to smoothies to give her a great energy boost - with two energetic small boys to wrangle that can’t hurt! Mt. Hope Farms also produces beautiful grapes curated and nurtured by Mike. Some varieties for the spreads, some for their own juicing, and a couple varieties of table grapes - Jupiter and Reliance. You can find the last of this year’s crop of Reliance grapes at select New Seasons Markets in Portland.
Mike focuses on the farming while Laura is perfecting delicious new concepts for preserving their fruit in simple syrups or fruit spreads. They work together to create the environment they dreamed of for raising their children in this rural landscape. Their goals for Mt. Hope Farms are a continued focus on sustainability and bring delicious, high quality products to life and into your kitchen!
I keep at least a couple jars from them in my fridge at all times. I love their beautifully balanced Strawberry Lavender spread with a triple crème Brie, or a tangy Chevre. Autumn Apple with it’s warm spice notes and hint of rum is my favorite. It reminds me of a classic apple butter with more flavor and dimension, it makes everything it touches more delicious!
For more information about Mt Hope Farms and where you can find their available fruit spreads check out their website https://www.mthopefarmsoregon.com/ and for an inside look at the farm operations check out Mike’s Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/farmer.mike.ellis/ .