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HELPERS: Bradford couple's fresh idea has positive ripple effect

Claire Jones and Tyler Wachna make veggies they grow available to anyone who needs or wants them
2022-09-22-JonesWancha FreshLittleFarmStand
Tyler Wachna and Claire Jones are shown with their kids beside the 'fresh little farm stand' in front of their Bradford home.

A husband and wife use traditional techniques to get their vegetables, and they’re willing to share it all.

Claire Jones and Tyler Wachna, along with their two boys, Wells and Smith, live on Meadowhawk Traill Avenue in Summerlyn Village.

Driving by, you will see a decorated veggie crate on the front lawn, dubbed “the fresh little farm stand.” The food on display is there to take as needed. The stand is built from a crate the family picked up at a salvage yard.

“We’ve been growing our own vegetables for about 10 years now and, each year, we have a ton of excess food on our hands,” Jones explains.

She would generously gave away the extra products to friends, family and neighbours. Taking inspiration from Little Free Libraries, a popular initiative that has taken off worldwide where neighbourhoods donate free books to a local mailbox, Jones thought a small farm stand with their extra fare would be beneficial not only to them, but to anyone who needs it.

“We weren’t sure how people were going to respond to it, but overall, it’s been really positive considering we’re technically still in a pandemic,” Jones says.

She also suspects rising food costs overrule any health concerns, which says something about the inflation rate and how it’s affecting everyone.

All of the vegetables are grown in the backyard; it’s not a large space but it’s set up with a few raised garden beds, full of blackberry and raspberry bushes, a cherry tree, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, corn, and much more. Among the garden sit multiple pots growing various herbs.

Each year, Jones and Wachna try to grow a new product, but some foods have been more challenging than others. 

“Our motto is just put it in the ground and see what happens,” Jones jokes.

Based on their experience, tomatoes are the easiest and most productive food to grow. Their stock is plentiful, with 25 varieties in their inventory. It’s also one of the most popular items on their stand that people need on a regular basis.

Not only has this been a gratifying experience for Jones and Wachna, but it’s also been a humbling and educational experience for their kids.

“We involve them in the whole process, from seeding to harvesting,” Wachna says. “It’s a great learning opportunity for them.”

But the learning doesn’t stop there. A small cash box sits by the stand where people have the option of leaving monetary donations. Those donations are then given to the local food bank, which further demonstrates the advantages of initiatives like this.

Adding to the list of benefits from the fresh little farm stand, it has opened doors for the family to get to know their neighbours better.

“Some people have dropped off food to us in exchange for our offering, and we’ve also received thank-you cards, which really gives you an idea of the wonderful people you have around you," said Jones.

The fresh little farm stand on Meadowhawk Trail is an inspiring initiative that may plant another idea in someone’s head, and who knows what it will grow?