Tri-Cities farming family revives produce stand long popular with locals

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Two Pasco farmers have given new life to the once-loved Cool Slice produce stand that had been a part of the community for years before its 2016 closure.

James and Karis Alford reopened the space on Road 48 and Court Street as In Season Produce on Memorial Day weekend.

They are filling the bins, buckets and boxes with hyperlocal produce, along with products such as jams and jellies made from their crops.

“We are Pasco-grown kids and have a Pasco-grown family — we want to source from Pasco,” said James Alford who is a third-generation farmer and owner of Alford Farms, Inc. with about 2,000 acres north of Pasco.

Karis Alford also is from a Pasco farming family, and together they are raising four children just down the street from the stand — a 9- and 7-year old from James Alford’s first marriage and a 5- and 3-year-old they have together.

The stand is supplied with crops he grows on 30 acres, including 15 acres across the street from the stand he’s leasing from Cool Slice’s former owner.

James Alford said that an initial conversation with the former owner about renting vacant land for crops quickly grew into a deal that ended with Alford renting all the land, tent, greenhouse and equipment.

“We didn’t know we were going to be starting this produce stand,” Alford said. “We looked at it in March and literally put corn in the ground the next week.”

Some of the produce this year is being supplied by others because of the short turnaround time Alford had to get the seeds in the grown. But he won’t be driving all over the state to stock the stand — he simply knocks on his neighbor’s door, so to speak.

“We want people to know who the farmers are and where the produce came from,” Alford said. “We want the freshest and local in-season produce to be available.”

Pat and Mike Aldridge of Pasco pick out a watermelon at In Season Produce off of West Court Street in Pasco. Jennifer King JKING@TRICITYHERALD.COM

Among the offerings this year are tomatoes, melons, peppers, potatoes, corn, zucchini, blueberries and more. They have pumpkins growing for the fall and will be able to expand for next year’s season.

While he doesn’t have large-scale orchards, the Alfords do have some apple and cherry trees, and anything that is a row crop can be lined up for harvest.

Small-scale farming, however, is new to Alford who is specializes in peas, corn, hay and potatoes in bulk to be sent to processors. He started working on his father’s farm when he was 16, and that was also on a large scale.

“The most difficult thing is making that transition to practicing customer service,” Alford said. “We have great relationships with processors, but when everything you grow is going to end up on someone’s plate, you can’t relax.”

A lot of time is being spent in labor — such as sorting through produce and hand picking from the plot of land just across the street — to ensure the quality of all produce that is sold. Alford says that the profit in the farm-to-table market is not as wide, but he is unwilling to cut corners.

“We want people to associate us with higher quality, not just cheap and local.”

Alford also wants the site to be a destination for locals. He says they are working on making the property more consumer friendly.

In Season Produce owners James and Karis Alford provide hyperlocal produce at their Pasco stand off West Court Street. JKING@TRICITYHERALD.COM

Rollin’ fresh ice cream trailer kicked off plans July 31 for regularly rotating food trucks being on site. Future vendors will include a hot dog stand and a vendor who cooks up taco meat.

“I want it to be an experience,” he said.

In Season Produce at 4921 W. Court St. in Pasco is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day through October. For more information see them on Instagram or Facebook or call 509-851-8026.

Posted By: Tri-City Herald
Posted On: 8/3/2020