The beginnings- born in Creston, Frank lived on a mixed farm with his parents until he moved to Squamish as a young adult.
- after 2 years of living away, Frank returned to the valley to work the orchard with his father. Eventually, Frank started farming on his own while working full time at Columbia Brewery.
- he first opened a fruit stand on the Back Erickson Road in 1974
- in 1980, Frank met Barb and purchased land on Highway 3. There the 2 of them built a small fruit stand which Barb ran. The two were married that fall, leading to the standing joke that Frank would not marry until sure his wife could run the fruit stand.
Wloka Farms Fruit Stand- the old fruit stand ran for 16 full seasons as Wloka Farms Fruit Stand. During that time, Frank and Barb made many mistakes, learned a lot and raised 3 children. Each year, the fruit stand grew or changed in some substantial manner.
- in the mid-nineties a major decision about career path was made; to continue farming and running the fruit stand or stay with the brewery full time?
- a middle ground was found. The fruit stand and the property on which it stood were sold but other acreages about the valley were kept. There, the mixed orchard was removed and planted to cherries.
Expat years- two years after selling the fruit stand, Frank, Barb and the now-teenage children moved to Pennsylvania with the brewery. During the almost 5 years there, Frank advanced his career and Barb finished her degree in education.
- during this time, all or part of the family returned to Canada every summer to work during cherry harvest.
- a quick move back to Canada and then on to a 5 year placement with Frank as Director of Technical Services in Moscow, Russia.
- again, each cherry harvest found Frank and Barb back working in the orchard, enjoying their first love.
Back to Creston- in 2006, circumstances changed again and Frank retired from the brewery. Back to Creston to work and play in the orchard full time.
- fast forward 5 years during which time more land was purchased and/or leased so that, on the largest crop year, almost 500,000 pounds of cherries were harvested by the Wloka Farms crew. The work was intense and heavily concentrated during the harvest season but the wonderful pickers and support staff made it all a lot of fun as well.
- the fall of 2012 brought many changes again. This time, the decision was to downsize; 10 acres were sold and 9.5 purchased! But the new land was completely free of trees and had beautiful soil. What to do with it?
- many ideas were tossed around - as obscure as raising dahlia tubers. But both Barb and Frank kept coming back to what had they enjoyed most in the past? The concept of a mixed orchard built from scratch was very appealing.
Wloka Farms Fruit Stand (again!)- with the planting of the mixed orchard (peaches, plums, apples, pears and apricots) and then raspberries being put in the ground, a decision had to be made about how to market the produce.
- again, in 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. But Frank was working a full time job off the farm and Barb was mothering 3 young children. Now Frank is 'retired' and there are no kids at home to demand Barb's time, so less energy should not be a problem.
- and so construction on the fruit stand building started fall of 2013.