Pleasant Valley Orchard is More Than an Orchard, it’s a Tradition

You can’t miss the iconic barn with the historic barn quilt rising above the St. Croix Valley, inviting you in. Pleasant Valley Orchard welcomes you to get outside with family and friends and enjoy the beauty and community of the Chisago Lakes area. The orchard has a down-to-earth atmosphere where all can experience the benefits of fresh Minnesota-grown fruits. The orchard is open for two seasons, offering pick-your-own strawberries in the summer, pick-your-own or pre-picked delicious apple varieties in the fall, and so much more. There are special events like a vendor fair and the 12 Days of Halloween, live music, barn animals, an adorable gift shop with one-of-a-kind items in the apple shed, pumpkins, hayrides, bakery items (try their signature apple pie!), hand-dipped caramel apples, and, on the weekends, a food trailer with apple slushies, donuts, and grilled apple brats. Whew, just to name a few fun things to do, see, and eat at the orchard! 

*You can see more barn quilts on the Chisago Lakes Barn Quilt Trail

Pleasant Valley Orchard, located in Shafer near Taylors Falls, sits on a hillside overlooking the scenic St. Croix Valley. As I drive the tree-lined winding roads to the orchard, looking out over wide open spaces and rolling landscapes, I feel thankful to live in Chisago Lakes. In the fall, the trees are incredible with rich reds, oranges, and yellows, and in the summer, the lushest of greens, with a lake or the beautiful St. Croix River around every turn. Whether you live nearby or travel from the Twin Cities, Wisconsin, or beyond (including our Scandinavian friends), you will love the expansive views. 

Pleasant Valley Orchard has been a family-run orchard for over thirty years. Jim Birkholz and Judy Erickson purchased the 70-acre farm and planted the first trees in 1990. Their goal was to provide quality strawberries, apples, pumpkins, and fresh bakery products in a family-friendly environment worthy of becoming a tradition. They have more than accomplished that! 

Strawberry Picking in Chisago Lakes and St. Croix Valley  

As spring rolls into summer, fresh strawberries are always on my mind. Pleasant Valley Orchard offers three acres of mouth-watering pick-your-own strawberries! It’s such a sweet treat to visit the orchard, walk the field, connect with nature, and find the jackpot of bright red berries. It’s fun for the whole family, especially the kids (although I get just as excited), to search and look under the leaves and then find a big grouping of strawberries. It’s overwhelmingly fun to fill your container with such goodness.  

The pick-your-own strawberry season runs from mid-June through mid-July, depending on ripening conditions. The orchard team makes the picking process easy. When you arrive, you will find directions with a map in the black mailbox at the orchard entrance by the banners. The strawberries are located in the back fields, just a short drive away. There is plenty of space to park in their grass field. Pleasant Valley Orchard provides containers if you don’t bring your own. The team brings you to the best available picking spot and gives direction. The fields are nice and clean, with a straw mulch that protects the berries from the harsh Minnesota winters. Once you are done picking, the berries are weighed, and it’s a quick check-out. They take cash, checks, or credit cards. *Bring cash or a check as a backup, as they sometimes experience technology issues in the fields.

I love making strawberry slushies (strawberries, ice, water, lemon, and maple syrup) when I get home to cool off and relax. It’s my Minnesota tradition!

Apple Picking in Chisago Lakes and St. Croix Valley 

Go pick, it’s a Minnesota tradition! Pick your own apples is available on the weekends at Pleasant Valley Orchard, with the season usually kicking off around Labor Day weekend. The Apple Hotline at 651-257-9159 is always updated with available apple varieties and the latest happenings. Apples and all the goodies are available DAILY 10 am to 6 pm. The orchard team takes great pride in the quality of their apples, harvesting them at the peak of their flavor. They are never picked too early, which shows in the taste of these delicious apples!

Pleasant Valley Orchard grows everyone’s favorites, including SweeTango™, Zestar!, Honeycrisp, First Kiss™, Cortland, Sweet16, Haralson, McIntosh, First Kiss™, Wealthy, Honeygold, SnowSweet, Prairie Spy, Fireside and Keepsake apples. 

Fall is a special time to visit, with the trees showing off all their brightest colors and a balance of warm and cool days. I appreciate the unassuming nature of the orchard and how it feels like we are all a part of it as I walk the grounds, pick apples, and then sit on a hay bale to listen to live music. The apple slushies are a must! Or maybe it’s the donuts; it’s really hard to choose a favorite. It’s the whole thing coming together: connecting with nature, daydreaming of apple recipes, the first bite of a freshly picked apple, the smell of fresh baked goods, the sounds of music and laughter, and watching families and friends enjoying life in the simplest ways. 

And speaking of recipes, orchard owner Judy writes a blog on the Pleasant Valley Orchard website, including a full list of apples with best uses

As the leaves slowly fall off the trees transitioning from September to October, the orchard blossoms with pumpkins. It’s the perfect time to take a fun hayride through the orchard to the pumpkin patch and pick out your favorite pumpkin in the field. Or you can choose one of their pre-picked pumpkins. There is even an express window at the apple shed if you’re making a quick stop. Then, their spooktacular Twelve Days of Halloween celebrates the twelve days before Halloween. It’s a great way to savor the season with spooky story time for kids, all ages scavenger hunt, and a pumpkin baking contest. There are also daily special sales!

Then, holiday magic happens at the apple shed in November and December! It’s a great time to stock up on apples for your holiday pies and take advantage before the season ends. There is a plentiful supply of apples, discounts on apple seconds, bakery items (yummy pies and caramel apples), gourmet foods, and fun and unique holiday decor and gifts.   

November hours are Thursday, Fridays & Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm. (Except Thanksgiving) The Christmas Sale marks the very end of all the apple goodness! And the last time to get all your orchard favorites. The 2023 December sale is November 30, December 1 & 2; 10 am to 4 pm.

Each season offers something different and festive at Pleasant Valley Orchard. 

*You can also RENT THE BARN at Pleasant Valley Orchard for Business Meetings, Retirement Parties, Family Reunions, Grooms Dinners, Engagement Parties, Birthday Celebrations, Anniversary Celebrations, Bridal Showers, and Baby Showers. 

Before you go, call the Orchard Hotline at 651-257-9159 for updates and announcements. Make sure to visit the Pleasant Valley Orchard website for their schedule, blog, and the latest and upcoming happenings. 

Happy picking and exploring! 


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