Back when Initiative 502 was on the ballot, Toni Nersesian and husband Tom Barlow voted yes because they didn’t think anyone should go to jail for smoking marijuana.
At the time, both of them were considering retirement. But then, an opportunity presented itself, so they began their “Second Act,” as Neresian calls it.
“A close friend gave us the opportunity to have a strain he had been working on, along with the ‘recipe’ that included specific watering, feeding and curing,” she said. “We did our due diligence of the plant and the marketplace, including lab analysis and asking people to smoke it and give their feedback.”
Today, they own Palouse Farms, a Tier 1 farm which is the exclusive grower for Palouse Peach, a local strain with a distinct flavor.
With a maximum canopy of 2,000 square feet, Palouse Farms is significantly smaller than many of the state’s 15,000-30,000 square foot farms. But the size requires fewer employees and allows Nersesian and Barlow to be much more hands-on with the operation. It also makes it easier to protect the confidential recipe, and control what stores offer it.
“We maintain a distance between stores, and in turn, the stores have customers who come to them because they are the only one in their area with Palouse Peach,” she said.
The staff also includes four part-time employees involved in processing and growing. On trim days, even the bookkeeper jumps in.
Over the past two years, the business has been fully focused on perfecting the sativa-dominant strain. The effects are said to make life a little easier, whether playing, working, or wanting to be more creative.
“For the first-time smoker, it is a clean, smooth, pleasant experience,” Nersesian said. “It’s a strong sativa, so you can play, work or just relax and enjoy your day. It also has a natural scent that reminds people of peaches.”
In the early days, she said the farm only sold flower. But they’ve learned how to grow and process other concentrates.
“We’re only here because of this special strain,” she said. “What has surprised us is the many ways we now sell it — we now package honeycomb and crumble concentrates, brushed kief, joints and Doobie Dope. We have recently added Peach Cobbler, a combination of flower bud, oil and kief.”
The first delivery of Palouse Peach was to Sativa Sisters, a Spokane Valley retailer, and their products have remained popular there and at other retailers.
Sativa Sisters co-owner Cary Smith said that Palouse Peach was one of the shop’s first original strains.
“It is a very unique cannabis in that it has a mild sweet flavor with a great euphoric high, very mellow with no bite and no cough at the end,” Smith said.
She feels that Nersesian and Barlow have perfected the growing process, achieving consistent quality plus creating a recognized local brand.
Palouse Peach can be found at several shops in the Spokane area including Sativa Sisters, Lucky Leaf, 4:20 Friendly, Satori South/North and The Green Nugget. It’s also available in Pullman at We’re Just Buds.