News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Fresh produce stand opens for Friday sales, entertainment

A Mill City couple has opened their farm to sell fresh produce, host local artisans and engage musicians, “unleashing a vibrant experience” to the Santiam Canyon and beyond.

Nina and Bradley Matson, owners of Matson Farm Fresh, held a soft opening on Aug. 4 and hope to entice people to come every Friday in August and the first Friday in September to their Mill City farm, located across the bridge on the Linn County side of town.

The couple started their well-received project in 2007 in Southern California. 

“We came to Mill City to get back to my hubby’s roots,” Nina Matson told Ken Cartwright in an interview on his KYAC 90.1 FM talk show.

“We actually had looked throughout Oregon to find the right property to utilize my husband’s two green thumbs,” she said. “My husband had looked at this property for four years, and I said no. I was a little bit nervous about the dam.”

Taking a long look at Mill City and not seeing a place to purchase fresh produce changed her mind, she added.

“We saw there was nothing here, so we actually could make a difference,” Matson said. 

Cartwright told Matson, “To my knowledge, the last fresh food product stand was up the other side of Rosie’s.”  That closed 12 years ago.

Residents recently began to ask when Mill City would have another opportunity to have fresh produce again, “so your timing is exactly right,” Cartwright said. 

After purchasing the farm, the Matsons had a lot of changes to make to turn the property into a fruit-and-vegetables producing entity.

“There used to be cattle out there,” Matson said of the fields. “However, the soil is suitable for growing.”

After much clearing and cleaning up, and with a several crops planted, their plan to grow local produce began and continues to materialize. 

At the soft opening, Matson said, “Everyone loved our Matson Farm produce – those juicy Triple Crown blackberries, mouthwatering Heirloom tomatoes, and softball-sized Walla Walla sweet onions that were simply delightful!

“We’re a no-spray farm,” she added. “Right now, we have 40 varieties of tomatoes. You can literally pick them and eat them!”

A mill on-site can automatically remove tomato skins to make canning or creating ketchup and other tomato products easier for people, Matson added. 

“Just bring your jars,” she added. “We will fill them for you to take home to finish processing.”

Upcoming crops include asparagus, sweet corn, Italian cucumbers and green beans. A blueberry picking area is underway and will be ready for next year.

“We have about 30 fruit trees that will be planted in the orchard area,” Matson said. “We’re hoping for Asian pears, Honeycrisp apples and Brown Turkey figs.”

Additionally, artisans displayed their wares at the soft opening, wowing visitors who came to enjoy the farm day, she said. 

“The artisans’ work was truly impressive, and customers were delighted by Jean Moule‘s beautiful art, Eve’s lovely Rugs, the charming creations from Mad Creek Pottery, the fantastic face painting by Aunt Toni – and the delicious sheep’s milk ice cream from Dreamies Creamery,” said Matson, who also dabbles in art when she and husband, Bradley, a fine-end woodworker, get time to create. 

Artist Herman Friedan of “Metal Your Way” with farmer Bradley Matson. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Artist Herman Friedan of “Metal Your Way” with farmer Bradley Matson. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Of the sheep’s milk ice cream, made with natural sweeteners, Matson added, “It has a very smooth, really nice flavor. You don’t feel like you have had very sugary dessert.”

Matson credited her son, Scotty, for working hard on the farm to “make a difference for the family.” Scotty also displayed his musical talents at the soft opening. 

Plans to have musicians continue to play for visitors on farm days are in the works, she said. 

“Uptown Music is sponsoring the music,” Matson said. “Everyone’s coming together to make it a wonderful thing.”

Uptown Music, located in Salem-Keizer, “generously” loaned the sound system used for the event, she said.

“Thanks Paul and Brian,” Matson said. “Ken Cartwright from our local KYAC 90.1 FM gave a hand setting it up. Thanks Ken!”

Matson Farm Fresh is located at 28391 River Road SE just beyond Fisherman’s Bend. An A-frame notice board marks the spot. 

Group picks are held at 4 and 6 p.m. Music is on the slate from 5 to 8 p.m. Bring a chair to listen and enjoy. And look forward to a special surprise on the Sept. 1 farm day, Matson said.

“Matson Farm Way of life!” she said online. “It promises to be a down to earth and delightful experience, and we’d love to have you join us!”

For more information, call 503-979-9797 or visit Matson Farm Fresh on Facebook.

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