Barb and Frank Wloka pose with some of the fresh produce for sale outside of their store. (Photo by Wes Friesen)

For the love of the harvest: The history of Wloka Farms Fruit Stand

Barb and Frank Wloka have farmed together for over 40 years

By Barb Wloka

Wloka Farms Fruit Stand is a popular destination for shoppers across the Kootenays to find locally-grown, fresh produce. The store is owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Barb and Frank Wloka.

Born in Creston, Frank grew up on a farm with his parents. After moving away to Squamish for two short years as a young adult, he was called back to farm life in the valley.

In 1980, Frank met Barb and purchased land on Highway 3. There, the two of them built a small fruit stand which Barb ran. That fall, the couple married, leading to the standing joke that Frank would not wed until sure his wife could run the fruit stand.

The original fruit stand ran for 16 full seasons. During that time, Frank and Barb made many mistakes, learned a lot, and raised three children together. Each year, the fruit stand grew or changed in some substantial manner.

In the mid-90s, they decided to sell the fruit stand. After the sale, the couple and their now-teenage children moved to Pennsylvania to pursue Frank’s work at the brewery. During the almost five years there, Frank advanced his career and Barb finished her degree in education.

Their time in Pennsylvania was followed by a five-year placement for Frank as director of technical services in Moscow, Russia. During these interesting and exciting expat years, every year Frank and Barb would return to Canada to work in the orchard for the cherry harvest, enjoying their first love.

Then, in 2006, Frank retired from the Columbia Brewery. The family retured to Creston to work and play in the orchard full time harvesting cherries – up half a million pounds annually! But in the fall of 2012, the decision was made to downsize and sell 10 acres. They purchased 9.5 acres of new land that was completely free of trees and had beautiful soil.

Many ideas were tossed around about what to do with the new land, with some concepts as obscure as raising dahlia tubers. But both Barb and Frank kept coming back to – What had they enjoyed most in the past? They agreed that building their own mixed orchard from scratch was very appealing.

They began planting the mixed orchard with peach, plum, apple, pear, and apricot trees, as well as raspberries in the ground. Next, Barb and Frank had to decide how to market their produce.

Looking back, both realized that the fruit stand years had been good ones. Hard work – yes. Long hours – yes. But rewarding in every way as well. Granted, both were younger and more energetic back in 1980. However, Frank had also been working a full-time job off the farm and Barb was busy mothering three young children. Now that Frank is somewhat retired and there are no kids at home, they had the time to dedicate to this new venture.

And so, construction of Wloka Farms Fruit Stand started in the fall of 2013. The present location, 3524 Highway 3, opened in July 2014. Stop by to see their selection of seasonal produce. Right now, there are lots of potatoes, squash, apples, and locally-made juices to choose from.

Barb Wloka is owner/operator of Wloka Farms Fruit Stand in Creston, B.C. She and her husband, Frank, have farmed for over 40 years and have learned a lot through trial and error. To grow their knowledge base, both continually research and collaborate with others. They also pick up tidbits of information from staff and customers. Learning to farm is a life-long educational experience!

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AgricultureCreston ValleyFarmingLocal Business