Today on the Land Use Trail: Helvetia

We’re continuing our tour of our Land Use Trail. Today, May 6: Helvetia, a unique but threatened farming region just beyond the edge of Oregon’s largest metro area.

About: In the Tualatin Valley in Washington Country, north of the high-tech warehouses and subdivisions of Beaverton and Hillsboro, Helvetia prides itself on its pastoral countryside that runs deep in cultural heritage with its annual Culture Fest, and its vast diversity of farming enterprises, including many Century farms, vineyards, u-pick farms, and more. 1000 Friends has worked hard with local farmers and residents to protect this productive area from urbanization.

Key Fact: The Helvetia area has survived repeated attempts to develop its farmland for incompatible uses, including landfills, freeways, and subdivisions. In the most recent case, large areas of the community were designated urban reserves in Washington County’s long-range plan. However, successful independent appeals by 1000 Friends of Oregon and Save Helvetia, a local advocacy organization, resulted in a legislatively-brokered settlement that designates Helvetia as a rural reserve. As a result, it will be protected from urbanization for at least 50 years.

 Another Cool Fact: The Helvetia area was named by German-Swiss farmers who came to the area over 150 years ago and thought it looked like their homeland. (Helvetia was the Latin name for Switzerland.) The community celebrates this heritage every year at the Helvetia Culture Fest, alongside the culture of the Twality Native Americans who previously inhabited the area.


Helvetia is a popular area for scenic drives and cycling. Trips often include a stop at the historic Helvetia Tavern.

A great time to visit is for the Helvetia Community Association’s annual Culture Fest, held every August.

 Learn More:

See the whole Land Use Trail, featuring exceptional Oregon natural places, communities, and working lands from every corner of our state.

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Photo credit: Carla Axtman Photography.