North Attleborough couple turns pickles into dollars for Lenore’s Pantry

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Norman and Tonya Achin have made Bread and Butter and Dill pickles, which people can pick up and leave donations. This benefits Lenore's Pantry. Staff Photo/Max Bowen
Tonya Achin created the sign for the Pickles for a Purpose fundraiser, which benefits Lenore’s Pantry. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

At the Achin home on Peterson Street, it’s easy to see the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor in the backyard garden, and now a new charitable effort is helping local families in need.

Norman Achin said that last year he and his wife Tonya decided to turn their fresh cucumbers into pickles. The process worked well, and Tonya came up with the idea of Pickles for a Purpose and created an artistic sign for it.

The North Attleborough couple would give jars of their pickles away in return for donations. The effort was an immediate success and word of mouth paired with social media postings led to many more asking for pickles. Jars of Bread and Butter or Dill pickles can be picked up at the Achin home or at Studio 149 on N. Washington Street. They can take what they want, and give what they can. One person gave $20 for two jars of pickles.

Thus far Norman said they were able to raise $340, which was donated to Lenore’s Pantry. Tonya has given some to the schools, where she works.

We do it because we like doing it,” said Norm. “It’s something that we decided if we could do this—especially the holidays—maybe we can do stuff to help out.”

Joan Badger is the town’s Human Services Coordinator and helps run Lenore’s Pantry. She said the pantry saw a tremendous increase in use during the height of the pandemic, with roughly 95 households signing up for food. That has gone down in recent weeks, with a little over 50 households now using the services, but this can translate to hundreds of residents.

We have been so fortunate, the town is very generous to its members,” she said. “We have felt supported through all of this and it’s overwhelming.”

Norm said the amount of the donations came as a surprise and people love the concept. The Achins take care of everything, buying the mason jars, slicing the cucumbers, and brining the pickles. For the Dills, they add extra spice for more of a kick. When heavy rains damaged their crops, the couple headed to farmers markets and roadside stands to get more cucumbers.

We make them, put them out there, and people donate what they can,” said Norm. “We buy it all, the jars, the spices that we need.”

It was the jars that proved the hardest part. During the pandemic many people turned to canning or making jams, and Mason Jars proved hard to come by. At one point, a case of jars—normally $12—cost around $50 due supply shortages. A friend gave them several, and the only thing the Achins ask is that those that take the pickles return the jars once they’re done.

Everyone was pickling and canning last year, so they became more expensive,” he said of the jars.

Norm walked through the process, which begins with using pickling cucumbers—a little smaller than normal ones— and cutting them into wavy slices, like crinkle French Fries. They make a dozen slices and put them in the brine for two weeks. He said the process isn’t hard and the result has been very popular.

People loved the idea,” he said. “We can help out with everything and are paying it forward. Everyone we talked to has been very, very supportive.”

For more information or to request pickles, e-mail nachin83@comcast.net.