With inflation levels continuing to soar, one Northern Michigan farm is offering an innovative approach to keeping food on the table fresh and affordable. The Open Market Produce Membership at Coveyou Scenic Farm Market puts a unique spin on the traditional CSA: for one flat fee, members can come to the farm any day of the week, as often as they want, and take home as many organic veggies as their household can eat.
Sound too good to be true? You’re not the first to think that.
“We’re often asked, ‘How can it work?’ Our answer is simple: we still believe people are generally honest,” says David Coveyou, a fifth-generation farmer. “It’s one more of our attempts to encourage people to enjoy the flavor and quality of local produce and eat healthier.”
Based on the honors system, this program builds on the foundational trust between local farmers and local customers. It’s a solution to the rising food prices and empty shelves at the supermarket. And, with Coveyou Scenic Farm Market’s new scan-and-go system, Open Market members just have to scan their member badge, grab the produce they want, and head home to put the farm-fresh veggies on the dinner table.
“Every day, we hear about how factors out of our control make it more challenging and expensive to put food on the table,” Coveyou says. “This program offers unlimited produce all season long, all certified organic, for just one affordable price. It’s all grown locally and supports small farms. It’s a win-win-win.”
The program is offered as a 21-week, full-season membership. Members pick up their produce at the farm’s US-131 market location any day of the week the farm is open, and they choose their favorite varieties to take home. The price of the membership is based on the number of people in the immediate household, with add-ons available for anyone who wants to juice, can, or preserve larger produce amounts.
Related Read: Find the Northern Michigan CSA That’s Right For You
Photo by Coveyou Scenic Farm Market
In addition to being simple and affordable, Coveyou says that Open Market Memberships also encourage families to eat more veggies. Removing the price barrier to purchasing healthy produce allows families to change their eating habits.
“The concept is similar to a gym membership: you get the most bang for your buck when you use it often. Once a family signs up for an Open Market Membership, they are motivated to eat as much produce as they can since they have already paid for it. We have people who save over 60% on their produce budget with this membership, and even some who say they’ve lost weight because of it.”
There are some guardrails to keep the program operational: produce can only be used for the people in a single household, it only covers vegetables, and members agree to not take more than they can use to minimize waste. You agree to not share produce with others outside your household and you agree to count everyone in your household when signing up. But at the end of the day, it comes down to trust.
“It’s a novel program that we don’t know of anyone else offering, anywhere,” says Coveyou. “I think we’re the only ones confident—or crazy—enough to do it.”
Coveyou Scenic Farm Market is open seven days a week and is located at 4160 US-131, just three minutes south of town.
“We’re not that out of the way from where people normally shop,” Coveyou says. “And, while picking up their produce, they can take advantage of the other local products in our barn market, like meats, dairy, fresh bread, and groceries. It’s a one-stop-shop for all things local.”
The farm’s new website has more information about the Open Market Membership Program and the ability to sign up for it online.