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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Fresh Start Produce co-founder dies

Dave Kinyon smiles as he stands in his produce stand, Fresh Start Produce, on  June 27, 2012, in Otis Orchards, Wash.  Kinyon died  Jan. 19, 2018, leaving an uncertain future for the produce stand and U-pick operations, at 21619 E. Wellesley Ave. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Dave Kinyon went by the nickname Pepper Dave. His wife, Lisa, held the title Bean Queen.

Spokane Valley residents also know them as operators of Fresh Start Produce in Otis Orchards for 38 years.

Dave Kinyon died Jan. 19, leaving an uncertain future for the produce stand and U-pick operations, at 21619 E. Wellesley Ave.

He was 69.

Because of Kinyon’s worsening health last year, Fresh Start didn’t open for the first time since the couple started in the produce business in 1978. The pair began by selling green beans they’d grown on their Otis Orchards property.

“Grandma will decide,” said granddaughter Kayla Denton, about the farm’s future. “She needs time to process.”

Denton said her grandfather had been in the hospital this month, while fighting pneumonia, but never recouped. He also battled multiple sclerosis for a number of years.

Dave Kinyon grew up on a family farm in Genesee, Idaho, and never left farming. He got his nickname because he grew some of the widest variety of peppers in the area.

Fresh Start opened seasonally, typically mid-April until October. The couple grew veggies and fruits but also had some produce brought in from nearby growing regions.

Among the items they’ve sold are flowers, local honey, starts for lavender, rosemary and cilantro, bell peppers and bundles of fresh garlic. They also took orders for buckets of strawberries grown at Klicker’s Strawberry Acres in Walla Walla.

The family opened a full produce stand in 1986 on the corner of Harvard and Wellesley, where they stayed until 1998, when they moved down the block to their present location.

When production grew, Dave Kinyon often worked 16-hour days on the 80-acre farm, but had to cut back in recent years. Family and employees worked along with Lisa Kinyon to keep Fresh Start going.

Over the years, his granddaughters helped sell the family’s produce at Liberty Lake Farmers Market. Corn from the operation went to the Spokane County Interstate Fair.

After decades of selling food to generations, family members put out a Jan. 17 request on Fresh Start’s Facebook page, asking if people could donate homemade meals for their grandmother, as she spent more time at the hospital with her husband.

Denton said there’s no longer a need for the meals, but the prior response from people providing home-cooked dinners was steady. Family members also set up a separate GoFundMe account seeking some financial support to cover expenses.

“When it came to the meals, I was pretty surprised as many people were willing to help. It’s been a combination of restaurants cards, or people brought food, or it’s an offer of an extra $20 from people who said they’d mail a card.

“Mainly, people made homemade meals.”

Lisa Kinyon said in a July 5, 2012, article in The Spokesman-Review that they usually put their four children to work at harvest time.

“We had an acre of green beans and a bunch of angry kids who had to pick them,” she joked. It was hard work: The beans grew low to the ground and there were a lot of them.

Denton said people can check for updates about Fresh Start on the operation’s social media posts. Funeral arrangements were pending on Thursday.

She cited her grandparents’ generosity over the years: donating once a week to Meals on Wheels and how Lisa Kinyon kept a loose IOU count.

“If someone was short of money to pay, she’d say, ‘Don’t worry about it, we’ll write it down and catch you later.’ I think all of us grandkids were on there from time to time.”