The Growing Season: How I Buiot a New Life-and Saved an American Farm; Sarah Frey

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One tenacious woman's journey to escape rural poverty and create a billion-dollar farming business--without ever leaving the land she loves

The youngest of her parents' combined twenty-one children, Sarah Frey grew up on a struggling farm in southern Illinois, often having to grow, catch, or hunt her own dinner alongside her brothers. She spent much of her early childhood dreaming of running away to the big city--or really anywhere with central heating. At fifteen, she moved out of her family home and started her own fresh produce delivery business with nothing more than an old pickup truck.

Two years later, when the family farm faced inevitable foreclosure, Frey gave up on her dreams of escape, took over the farm, and created her own produce company. Refusing to play by traditional rules, at seventeen she began talking her way into suit-filled boardrooms, making deals with the nation's largest retailers. Her early negotiations became so legendary that Harvard Business School published some of her deals as case studies, which have turned out to be favorites among its students.

Today, her family-operated company, Frey Farms, has become one of America's largest fresh produce growers and shippers, with farmland spread across seven states. Thanks to the millions of melons and pumpkins she sells annually, Frey has been dubbed "America's Pumpkin Queen" by the national press.

The Growing Season tells the inspiring story of how a scrappy rural childhood gave Frey the grit and resiliency to take risks that paid off in unexpected ways. Rather than leaving her community, she found adventure and opportunity in one of the most forgotten parts of our country. With fearlessness and creativity, she literally dug her destiny out of the dirt.

August 1, 2020


About the Author

Sarah Frey is founding farmer and CEO of Frey Farms. Sarah was born in Southern Illinois and raised in the small farming community of Orchardville.

At age 16, Sarah was determined to escape rural poverty and started a fresh produce delivery business out of the back of an old pickup truck. After a hardscrabble adolescence, she learned to survive and eventually thrive off the land on which she was raised.

As a teenager, with a healthy dose of moxie, she began negotiating fresh produce deals with the nation's largest retailers. Nearly two decades later, the family business manages thousands of acres of fruit and vegetables on farms in Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, and West Virginia.

Dubbed "America's Pumpkin Queen" by the New York Times, she sells millions of pumpkins annually. Her humble beginnings and early life on the farm inspired her to develop "Sarah's Homegrown," a line of fresh beverages and natural food products made from unmarketable or "ugly fruit."

Sarah is a vocal advocate for American farmers and has a longstanding commitment to improving the quality of life for those living and working in the nation's most rural communities. Sarah still lives, works and is raising her two sons, William and Luke, on the same small farm where she grew up.


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