In 1995 Evangeline Burkholder aka the ”Gypsy Queen” upon high school graduation landed herself onto the Edmonton summer vending scene. She joined forces with a father and son team selling their wares in the river valley and at various locations around town.
The mystique of working with a small seasonal business was perfect while she pursued post- secondary education at the U of A. Her interest in the “gypsyesque” vending life was fostered by the steadfast mentoring she received from Bob and Paddy, during her summer employment over several years. Their concern for Evangeline, the community and the future of their employees made work feel like home and loyalty to their ideals came naturally to her. Every day work became an education in itself. She also felt the satisfaction of her work as happy customers became familiar faces and often friends. The casual outdoor environment afforded her the freedom she also desired to entertain some of her loftier interests in nature, poetry, art, music, writing, people, culture and even amateur juggling when the inspiration hit; she was able to manifest dreams whether on the side of the road in a lawn chair or in yellow rain gear waiting for the sporadic summer splatters to pass.
With time, the business was encouraged by the inspiration of other local vendors, to evolve into also supplying produce to its customers. The dream team of 3 was approached by vendor neighbor and river valley fruit pioneer Ron Meldeau to carry fruit at their various locations. Bob & Paddy having come from a small farming community west of the city and Evangeline’s fraternal grandparents having been farmers east of the city saw themselves easily fit with Ron’s down to earth personality, goals and vision.
Meldeau’s keen interest in and support for buying from small growers and likeminded individuals with good quality product was the strong foundation for the 2 companies working relationship for many years. Ron, by willingly sharing his expertise with the fruit rookies truly demonstrated his belief in and hopes for the future of the City of Edmonton’s Vending Program. He did so by promoting and increasing the number of quality alternate shopping options the city aspired to offer the public. Sadly and suddenly Ron passed away. By the end of the first summer after his untimely death, his family approached their fruit prodigies to carry on the River Valley and Fox Drive fruit stand business and Ron’s legacy into the future. The trio humbly accepted the offer and took his family’s vote of confidence seriously.
Eventually in 2011, after many years of holding the lead management position, and as a reward for her faith in the company’s evolution and long- time efforts Evangeline was sold the seasonal business. A decision her mentors made in order to experience summer retirement options. She named the new company Gypsy Gardens Inc. to help accurately reflect the seasonal nature of the fruit business, its various locations, as well as her deep desire for seeing the world through a romantic heart. This was a name she had silently envisioned for the company back in 2006 when on a spring research trip through the Okanogan Valley.
Going forward with the axiom “Dreams Can Come True”; Evangeline hopes to honour her predecessors’ beliefs in building community, promoting common decency, ensuring product quality, as well as enjoying with customers (aka Fruit Gypsies) genuine-fun-fair interactions. With a goal to keeping childhood charming she has a particular interest in helping children experience healthy food choices and memorable interactions within their city community.
Staff – Chris Baillie
Chris Baillie is the owner of Chris Baillie Music in Sherwood Park, where he offers cello, guitar and ukulele lessons to musicians of all ages and abilities. A life long musician with 20 years teaching experience, Chris studied music at Acadia University where he majored in Cello Performance. Chris believes that music lessons have to be fun as well as practical. Students should leave each and every lesson with the actual skills to make music on their own, and this makes “practicing” feel more like “playing”!
Please visit Chris Baillie Music for updates and further information.