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The Giving Tree: Vista resident creates free roadside fruit stand

Steph Duerden shares her bumper crop with anyone and everyone who drives by.

VISTA, Calif. — 2020 has been a challenging year, yet there is still so much to be thankful for. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Vista to visit 'The Giving Tree.'  Sometimes the best stories are organic in every sense of the word.

When I called Steph Duerden to set up this story, "I was totally surprised, It was definitely not the call I was expecting at all," said Steph.

Credit: 'The Giving Tree' in Vista

Somehow Steph made herself the center of attention way out in Vista. She certainly didn't think she was worthy of a television feature story. "Yeah we have fruit, and we want to share it and that was the end of that," said Steph.

Well, not quite, Steph and her husband Ando moved to their property last Thanksgiving hoping they'd have plenty to share with the pilgrims one year later. "We have oranges and grapefruits, and we have persimmons, guavas, lemons, and strawberry guavas," said Steph. Did she mention the apples and avocados? "Yeah, lots of fruit," said Steph.  

Credit: 'The Giving Tree' in Vista

About a month ago, Steph set up a fruit stand. "I mean the first question was what was 'The Giving Tree'? We said we've got food and we want to share," said Steph.

First, neighbors like Cody came cruising along. "Thank you," said Cody grabbing some fruit. Then Steph posted 'The Giving Tree' on the community website Nextdoor. "It got a lot of reactions and we have people driving out from Oceanside and Carlsbad, just to kind of see what kind of produce is out," said Steph.

Credit: 'The Giving Tree' in Vista

Then the baskets started magically filling themselves. The gift that keeps on giving. "Yeah, all of a sudden people started to come by and drop off food," said Steph. "Pounds of carrots and potatoes. People are dropping off food because they have it."

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So, what is she charging? "Nothing it's not about money. If having fresh fruit out on the street maybe helps gets some food on someone's table at the end of the day then that's the least I can do," said Steph.

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Money may not grow on trees but acts of kindness do. "It's been a really nice unity in our community," said Steph.  

If you'd like to make a donation or need food assistance after Thanksgiving 2020, 'The Giving Tree' would like to refer people to the amazing work being done at the San Diego Food Bank.  Click here for more information.