New produce business sprouts
Patrick and Becky Clark want the Prineville community to feel like the new produce stand is theirs.
"This is here for them. It's not Clark's Produce. This is Prineville's produce," Becky said.
The couple and their three teenagers opened Prineville Produce at the east end of town May 1, and they plan to be in business year-round, offering as much local food as they can.
So, what prompted the family to open a permanent produce business in a tent?
"We were just trying to figure out what we wanted to do for a living, and we were looking at different options," Becky said. "We were actually in Sisters, and I was looking longingly at the produce stand there because it was winter and they weren't open yet, and I went, 'Hmmm. Patrick, what do you think of this?'"
The Central Oregon natives have worked in the restaurant industry and have run a lot of their own businesses, but a produce stand was a new venture.
They decided to give the idea a try and drove around Prineville, looking for a spot to settle.
"This place stood out, and so we contacted Bobby Cox over at the bakery, and he said, 'No problem. Let's do this,'" Becky recalls.
They rent their space and a renovated shed from the Cox family, who owns nearby Prineville Body and Paint and Granny Faye's Bakery.
They erected a white 1,100-square-foot tent that connects to the shed and built a sturdy fence around it.
Shoppers can find a selection of apples, cantaloupe, watermelon, honey dew, asparagus, artichokes, carrots, papayas, blueberries, bananas, yams, corn, parsley, grapes, peppers, lemon and limes, just to name a few.
And, they offer free samples of some of their fruits and vegetables.
Currently, they get most of their products from a wholesaler, but they also have contracts with a few local growers.
Some of their produce comes from Washington and California, and their melons come from Mexico.
"We start in the spring with stuff that's from farther away, and then it's slowly creeping closer and closer and closer, and then as fall comes on, it'll start creeping further away again," Becky said of where they get their produce. "We're getting more and more Oregon products in here. We've got spinach, leeks, rhubarb and potatoes from Oregon."
A gal in Mitchell supplies them with fresh honey and recently delivered a crate of California oranges.
"Her husband drove all the way down to Oroville and got these that were fresh off the tree, and they're incredibly sweet and juicy," Becky said of the oranges.
More and more local produce is coming in.
"I've got so many people in the community approaching me. We have a couple that's going to grow patty pan squash. Those are hard to find, but they're excellent," Becky said.
When the season is ripe, they'll get fruit from Jeff Thomas of Thomas Orchards in Kimberly. They plan to get Oregon berries from a berry farmer. They're in the process of getting contracts with others from Prineville, Terrebonne, Madras and the Willamette Valley.
"Another farmer is going to supply quick-turn items such as lettuces, spinach, fresh herbs like cilantro, sugar snap peas and tomatoes," Becky said.
Their organic selection is also growing.
"We're still feeling out the community and how many people want that," Becky said.
Plans also call for Prineville Produce to carry meat. Once they get some deep freezes, they will be able to offer locally grown bison, beef and elk. They're looking for chicken and pork growers as well.
"We're intending to do this year-round, so we'll get through pumpkin season, and the tents will go down," Becky said.
Their headquarters will then be the shed, which has a walk-in cooler. They will take customers' orders and put together custom boxes and bring them right to their cars.
They might even sell Christmas trees come late fall.
They take cash, cards, local checks and EBT cards. They're also applying to accept WIC.
Becky says their first few weeks in business have been "awesome."
"We will continue to bring the best produce possible at the best prices possible," she said. "We can't wait for the Northwest season to kick in."
Owners: Patrick and Becky Clark
Location: 2757 NE Third St. in the Granny Faye's Bakery parking lot
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday