NOTL family farm thrives on customer satisfaction, honesty
NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE — In the outskirts of beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, on a Road called Line 6, is a modest stretch of farmland owned by Pavel Varadinek and family.
At the end of the family home’s driveway by the road, is a small table with baskets of fruits — plums, prunes, peaches, grapes and apricots — and a little tin box with a writing on top that says: “Please deposit money in the box.”
When Alderman Art T. Viola and Philippine Reporter editors Hermie and Mila Garcia dropped by the farm for some fruits one afternoon, that was exactly what was done by the former Lord Mayor of the town, as there was no one onsite by the fruit stand to attend to customers. Viola promptly transferred heaps of prunes from two baskets to plastic bags, as he dropped the appropriate payment into the tin box.
To the Toronto-based journalists — this was a practice unheard of where they came from — a pleasant discovery for them that in this rural farmer’s market, honesty as a policy and practice is alive and well.
The farm is owned by Pavel Varadinek and wife Hana, proud parents of Christopher Paul, a banker/broker who lives and works in Toronto; and grandparents to a baby boy and girl — children of a married daughter living in Oakville.
The farm grows grapes and apples as well, and is a frequent stop-over for fresh fruits, not only by tourists on their way to the NOTL town centre, but by long-time neighbouring residents.
During The Philippine Reporter’s next visit to the farm the next day with Viola — who had graciously acted as host and guide once again for the paper’s traditional picnic-reunion — the Varadineks were at home this time with their visiting brood.
Even as he was kept busy by customers, Varadinek managed to chat with the visting journalists, and confirm with them that the honesty policy and practice have indeed been very much alive in this part of the town. In over a decade, there was only this single instance when a prankster thief actually hauled off everything — fruits baskets, cash and all, including the the table and umbrella.
Undaunted by that one incident, Varadinek — a former Ontario Hydro engineer and expert in pumps who was handpicked to supervise early critical work at the New Orleans flood disaster site — installed another fruit stand at exactly the same spot — a happy testimony to his faith in simple enterprise, and in his trust in people’s basic honesty.