August 2020 - 1

Online marketing a
topic at 2020 Great
Lakes EXPO
Multi-year rotation in
high tunnels curbs soil
How might COVID-19
change food
August 2020 | Volume 54 |
Issue 8
Watermelon grower Sarah Frey's
entrepreneurship, advocacy recognized
Sarah Frey, president and CEO of Frey
Farms, was honored at United Fresh
LIVE! Photos: Angela Talley
By Stephen Kloosterman
Associate Editor
From a 16-year-old selling
watermelons from a pickup truck to the
head of a large, family-run vegetable
farm operation and respected voice in
the fresh produce industry, Sarah Frey's
come a long way.
Frey, who is president and CEO of
Frey Farms in Orchardville, Illinois,
was recently recognized at the virtual
trade show United Fresh LIVE! as
the honoree and main speaker of its
Women in Produce session. At United
Fresh, she was introduced by her friend,
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, a Republican
from Illinois, who said he first met Frey
10 years ago while he was working for
another member of Congress.
" You could just see the beauty of the
fields in and around her community
and in and around where she lived,
and it was a place that cellphones
didn't work too well, " Davis said. " I
doubt they still (work well), but in the
end, it's a place that you can see how
somebody with a vision, somebody
with the tenacity and somebody with
the will could turn that field, that hill,
into the operation that we've seen
operate globally. "
Taking over early
Growing up on a 100-acre farm in
southern Illinois, Frey at 8 years old
would work with her mother to buy
watermelons from local growers and
deliver them to
grocers. At age 16,
she bought a truck
and took over
the distribution,
growing the client
list from 12 stores
to more than 150.
At age 18, she
purchased the
family business. As the company grew,
Sarah Frey's brothers returned home to
work with their younger sister. She tells
her story at length in a new book, " The
Growing Season: How I built a new life
and saved an American farm, " due out
from Random House in late August.
" She talks about in the book her first
deal with Walmart, and the lengths
she and her brothers went through to
fulfill the orders, " Davis said. The book
describes how, in poverty, the family
homestead at first seemed a restrictive
place to Frey, but eventually became a
source of empowerment that allowed her
to travel even internationally, he said.
The company now has growing
operations in Florida, Georgia,
Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois
and in the panhandle of West Virginia.
It grows pumpkins, watermelon,
cantaloupe, sweet corn, hard winter
squash and fall ornamentals, marketed
under Sarah's Homegrown produce
brand. Sarah Frey also in 2017
launched Tsamma Watermelon Juice, a
value-added product manufactured at
a new 70,000-square-foot processing
facility in Poseyville, Indiana. The
facility, which is capable of processing
See FREY, page 5

August 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of August 2020

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