Sarah Frey in 2006
|Occupation||Farmer, business owner|
Frey grew up on her family farm in Keenes, Illinois, the youngest of five children and the only daughter. The family was poor and survived mostly on food grown or reared on the farm. She says that her first sale of melons took place when she was eight. In her youth, she wanted to move to a city job and escape the farm, but following the threat of the farm's repossession, she decided to help save it. She took over selling melons and cantaloupes to local groceries, and obtained a job selling to the local Walmart distribution center in 1997, while she was still in her teens. At 16, she took over distribution and quickly increased the farm's client list from 12 to 150. She purchased the farm outright at age 18.
Frey has been described as "the Pumpkin Queen of America". She grows more pumpkins than any other farmer in the United States. In 2016, Frey sold around five million pumpkins. Most of her crop is not suitable for eating, but is very popular for Halloween lantern carving. The family business now owns about 150,000 acres (61,000 ha) of farms, spanning Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, and West Virginia. Although pumpkins are the most popular produce, the business also farms watermelons, cantaloupes, sweet corn, and hard squash. As of 2017, Frey Farms is the largest H-2A visa employer in Illinois, and recruits around 250 staff to assist with the pumpkin harvest, which takes place across Illinois and Indiana. She has also produced Tsamma watermelon juice in an attempt to break into the watermelon juice market. Frey's business negotiations with Walmart have been featured in a Harvard Business School study.
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- Severson, Kim (October 12, 2016). "America's Pumpkin Queen Has a Request: Don't Carve, Cook". The New York Times. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
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- Dunn, Laura (March 26, 2015). "Women in Business: Sarah Frey-Talley, Founder of Tsamma". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
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- "Frey Farms Opens Fruit and Vegetable Processing Facility" (Press release). PR Newswire. October 17, 2017. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
- "On Illinois farms, where labor is tight, foreign workers are welcomed". Chicago Tribune. August 20, 2017. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
- "Negotiating with Wal-Mart – Alumni – Harvard Business School". www.alumni.hbs.edu. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
- "Great Pumpkins". Daily Herald. October 14, 2007. Retrieved March 20, 2018.