Wayne Co. native Sarah Frey of Frey Farms, receives “Women in Produce” award

The annual United Fresh Produce Association’s “Women in Produce” celebration recognizes the contributions of all women working in the produce industry, and selects one individual to share her personal experience.

President and CEO of Frey Farms, Sarah Frey and Founder of Tsamma™ Watermelon Juice and Sarah’s Home Grown, was the 2020 honoree and featured speaker at the Women in Produce LIVE! General Session on Tuesday.

Sarah was raised on a small, 100-acre farm in southern Illinois, where at age eight, she and her mother would buy watermelons from local farmers and go store-to- store, making deliveries to local grocers. At age 16, she bought a truck and took over the distribution, and it wasn’t long before she grew her client list from 12 stores to more than 150.

At age 18, she bought the family business. As her business grew, Sarah’s brothers- Leonard, Harley, John, and Ted Frey-returned home to work with their younger sister, where they remain today.

Headquartered in rural Orchardville, Frey Farms is a Certified Woman Owned Business that specializes in growing, packing, and shipping fresh market produce, including pumpkins and watermelons.

Today the company has growing operations in Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois and in the panhandle of West Virginia. Her story has been captured in a book, “The Growing Season: How I built a new life and saved an American farm,” which is being published by Random House and due to be released on August 25.

While Frey Farms is known for their pumpkin operation, pumpkins are a small part of what they do. Frey Farms also produces watermelon, cantaloupe, sweet corn, hard winter squash and fall ornamentals. Watermelon is the predominant commodity which was the inspiration for Tsamma™ Watermelon Juice, the first and only bottled watermelon juice produced in the U.S.

Sarah is a past member of the United Fresh Board of Directors, and now serves on the United Fresh Government Relations Council and the National Watermelon Promotion Board. She also is a member of the Illinois Agriculture Coalition committee, assembled by the Governor of Illinois Bruce Rauner.