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A&E >  Food

Farm starting members market

CasaCano Farms is starting a members market, and now’s the time to sign up.

The new offering provides an alternative to the traditional community-supported agriculture, or CSA, program.

Here’s how it works: Customers pay a $75 membership at the start of the season, then visit the farm on a designated day to purchase produce at wholesale prices, a discount of about 20 percent.

In traditional CSA programs, members pay a lump sum up front, then pick up a – usually pre-packed – box of produce without charge each week throughout the season. In the Spokane area, prices vary from farm to farm, ranging from $200 to $650, often depending on shares (some offer one- and two-person sizes), number of weeks and pounds of produce.

Last year, CasaCano Farms charged $500 for its 22-week, 12-member CSA. It was the farm’s first year of operation.

Founded in 2014, CasaCano Farms is located on a 6-acre plot off the Palouse Highway, 3 miles south of the Spokane city limits. Madyson Versteeg and Jorge Cano debuted their produce at the Thursday Market in the South Perry District last May, starting a CSA program around the same time.

For their second season, they’re opting to do things a little differently.

“Five hundred dollars is a lot at one time,” Versteeg said. “This bridges the gap between the farm and the CSA. You still get to come and interact. We’re trying to build a sense of community.”

But, she said, “With this, if we don’t have cabbage for everybody, it’s OK.”

The members market will be first come, first-served. The pick-up time will remain the same as last year: Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. The season starts May 27 and runs through Oct. 14.

“This will be more like going to buy produce at the grocery store: You can buy as much or as little as you want,” said Cano, who spent the past several months renovating a barn to better accommodate the members market.

He said he’s hoping the lower cost upfront will attract more members. He also said the produce, harvested the day of the members market and stored in a new cooler in the remodeled barn, “will be even more fresh than the farmers market.” That’s because there’s no travel time for the farmers, and vegetables won’t be displayed outdoors in the height of a hot summer.

He and Versteeg still plan to make their produce available at the popular farmers market on South Perry Street.

But, “Sometimes, farmers markets can be kind of stressful,” Cano said. “This is taking it back to the ’50s farm stand. You’re going down the road to talk with your neighbors.”

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