Patricia Snyder Concert and Lecture Series presents: Sarah Frey
Sarah Frey is the founder and CEO of Frey Farms, a Certified Woman- Owned Agribusiness headquartered in southern Illinois. Frey Farms is a leading US grower, shipper and marketer of fresh fruits and vegetables. Sarah also oversees the diverse operations of the Frey family of companies to include land acquisition, regenerative agriculture initiatives, raw ingredient manufacturing and a full-scale beverage business. The Sarah’s Homegrown brand of produce and beverages are distributed across the US from over 200 cold-chain distribution centers, in both retail grocery and foodservice.
Sarah has been described by the New York Times as America’s Pumpkin Queen. “Ms. Frey, crushes any image you may have of a pumpkin farmer. She has a taste for fedoras and an impressive collection of boots in her closet. She also has farmland in seven states and millions of dollars in produce contracts in her desk drawer” says Kim Severson, food editor for the NYT.
Frey Farms is best known as being America’s largest producer of fresh pumpkins; but watermelons are, in fact, their top commodity. Sarah founded Tsamma (sah-mah) watermelon juice, which was the first watermelon juice distributed nationally; and is the author of the best-selling book, “The Growing Season: How I Built a New Life – and Saved an American Farm,” published by Random House in August of 2020. “The Growing Season” has been optioned for film with Sarah serving as the Co-Executive Producer.
Sarah’s entrepreneurial spirit was nurtured at the young age of eight, while accompanying her mother on a summer produce route selling direct to grocery retailers in southern Illinois. The summer she turned 16, Sarah took over the produce route and expanded it from 12 independent grocery stores to over 150 - then purchased her family’s small 100-acre farm. Bootstrapping her way out of rural poverty, She ran her full-time business while attending high school and college simultaneously. At age 19, Sarah negotiated with Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, and successfully secured fresh produce contracts, turning her vision into reality with an expansive growth into retail grocery that enabled her to bring her four older brothers back to the family farm and into a now-flourishing business.
Sarah serves on many industry-leading association boards and has been appointed by both democratic and republican administrations. She has been highlighted as one of the most influential women in agriculture, serving in bipartisan Ag Advisory roles for multiple members of the US Congress and has provided expert testimony on key issues affecting US food supply. Sarah actively advocates for better health initiatives, nutrition policies and economic opportunities on behalf of underserved rural communities. Her companies provide dedicated support and resources to various nonprofits and proudly partners with Feeding America.
Sarah still lives on “The Hill” where she and her brothers grew up and is raising her two sons William and Luke. Her efforts continue to better the lives of those living in rural poverty providing professional college advisory assistance and internships to students interested in pursuing higher education with a focus on business and agriculture. Sarah attributes her American success story to humble beginnings, hard work and a close family with plenty of Midwestern moxie.