RICHLAND -- Tri-Citians have a new way to purchase fresh produce directly from the farm.
Beginning May 2, Eltopia farmer Alan Schreiber will operate a produce stand from 3 to 6 p.m every Wednesday at Barnard Griffin Winery in south Richland.
"We are always looking for new venues to sell our produce," said Schreiber, 49. "We will have a wide array of produce, as wide as the season will let us."
Schreiber grows more than 300 different kinds of produce on his 115-acre farm, so expect a lot of different -- and often exotic -- items.
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He anticipates offering 10 to 15 items in May, with that number growing to more than 100 at the peak of growing season.
"We'll have everything from asparagus and artichokes to exotic melons to zucchini," said Schreiber, executive director of the state's asparagus and blueberry commissions.
The idea for a one-farmer market germinated when his in-laws from Orange County, Calif., came for Christmas. They are in Barnard Griffin's wine club and wanted to visit the winery. Schreiber began chatting with Kim Gravenslund, who runs the winery's tasting room and also had been thinking about new ways to enrich visitors' experience.
"We thought it would be a nice fit for us," she said. "We hope that if this works out, it will be an ongoing relationship."
Barnard Griffin is in the midst of a remodel, which will include a commercial kitchen. When it opens, Gravenslund said she would like to focus the food on produce from Mid-Columbia growers.
The winery will offer visitors wine by the glass, and Gravenslund thinks having Schreiber there will be good for everyone.
"We hope this becomes a place for locals to grab their fresh produce and a bottle of wine," she said.
John Bookwalter, owner/winemaker for J Bookwalter next door, loves the idea. Last fall, he hired a chef and is providing more than just a typical winery tasting room, as is nearby Tagaris, which has a sit-down restaurant and full bar.
"I think it's a great idea," he said of Barnard Griffin's plans. "I love the farm-to-table concept. Anytime we can draw more people here, it's good for all of us."
Schreiber already sells his produce at farmers markets in Pasco, Richland, Kennewick and Walla Walla.
He also runs a "community-supported agriculture" program, or CSA.
Each year, more than 300 Mid-Columbians pay for a weekly box of produce from Schreiber.
The 28-week program ranges in price from $500 to $1,100, depending on the size of the box. Last year, he also ran a winter CSA program, which attracted 84 customers.