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Farmer’s Faith Renewed, and the Favor Returned

Woman Returns a Wad of Cash and Now Gets Free Fruit

Left to right: Todd Burkdoll, Janice Ristow, and Tana at Saturday’s Farmers’ Market | Credit: Paul Wellman

About three years ago, Janice Ristow went down to the Saturday Farmers’ Market as she and her husband normally do. But this trip stood out because Ristow looked down that day to find a large wad of cash wrapped in a red rubber band — totaling $1,040. After visiting multiple stands and looking for its owner without any success, she returned home to call the main Farmers’ Market number and report the found money. She didn’t mention the amount or any other details.

A few days went by without any calls, and Ristow began to think that this was some higher power giving her a little extra spending money for her upcoming trip to France. But on the fourth day, Todd Burkdoll gave her a ring. He said he thought she may have found his money. Although he didn’t know the exact amount he dropped, he did know that it was wrapped in a red rubber band and was all 20s, two facts that checked out with Ristow. That evening, Burkdoll sent over one of his right-hand women, Tana, to collect the money and drop off four bags of fruit as a thank you. Ristow was delighted. Little did she know, this was just the beginning of their friendship. 

Since then, every time Ristow has visited the Todd Burkdoll Farms stand on Saturdays, he has refused to let her pay for her fruit. Even if Burkdoll isn’t personally selling, one of his workers will usually recognize who she is and give her the produce for free. There have only been two occasions where Ristow or her husband have been allowed to pay for their fruit, and both of those times someone immediately realized who they were after they handed their cash over and gave them three times the fruit they had paid for before letting them walk away. When the couple asked his employees why he continued to refuse their money, Tana responded, “You renewed his faith.”

After this happened numerous times, Ristow began to avoid the stand because she started to feel bad for all that Burkdoll was giving her. But that didn’t work either. Burkdoll would see her passing by on her way to another vendor and call her over, insisting on filling up her bags with fruit. Despite their insistence and disguises — the Ristows will put on hats, large sunglasses, etc. — Burkdoll, without fail, recognizes Ristow and her husband every time. Whenever Ristow tries to say that he has fully repaid her for returning the cash and begs him to let her pay, Burkdoll says, “It’s not up to you to decide when a gift is up.” 

Ristow says that not only is Todd Burkdoll Farms’ fruit some of the best at the Saturday Farmers’ Market, but that Burkdoll himself has reminded her of “how many good people there still are out there.” 

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