National Produce

Frey To Be Honored at 2020 Women in Produce LIVE! General Session

Sarah Frey Women in Produce
Sarah Frey

Sarah Frey, president and CEO of Frey Farms and founder of Tsamma Watermelon Juice and Sarah’s Home Grown, will be the honoree and featured speaker at the Women in Produce LIVE! General Session at noon Eastern, Tuesday, June 16, during United Fresh LIVE!

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

The United Fresh celebration of Women in Produce held each year recognizes the contributions of all women working in the produce industry and selects one individual to share her personal experience of service. The featured speaker is selected from nominations submitted by United Fresh members across the industry. Nominations are evaluated by a committee of past honorees and United Fresh officers based on the candidate’s involvement in the industry, contributions to the industry and inspiration for others.

“For more than 20 years, our Women in Produce honorees have always provided an inspiring look into successful pathways in our industry,” said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. “Sarah has such an inspiring personal and professional story to share with our attendees. I know she will inspire yet another generation of produce leaders.” 

Frey was raised on a small, 100-acre farm in southern Illinois, where at age 8, 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, her brothers (Leonard, Harley, John and Ted Frey) returned home to work with their younger sister, where they remain today. 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 released on Aug. 25.

While Frey Farms is known for its pumpkin operation, pumpkins are a small part of what it does. 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.

Frey 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 Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. Frey has been recognized by the PMA Foundation, “Eight Women Leaders You Should Know.”

She will join a group of past honorees including: Dan’l Mackey Almy, DMA Solutions Inc.; Tonya Antle, Organic Produce Network; Jan Berk, San Miguel Produce; Frieda Rapoport Caplan, Frieda’s Inc.; Karen Caplan, Frieda’s Inc.; Margaret D’Arrigo Martin, Margaret Inc.; Jan DeLyser, California Avocado Commission; Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh Produce Association ; Jan Fleming, Strube Celery & Vegetable Co.; Janice Honigberg, Sun Belle Inc.; Cindy Jewell, Jewell Marketing; Lorri Koster, Koster Communications, Coastal Grower Magazine; Julie Krivanek, Krivanek Consulting Inc.; Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission; Lisa McNeece, Grimmway Enterprises Inc.; Teri Miller, The Fresh Market; Dr. Martha Rhodes-Roberts, Roberts Associates; Steffanie Smith, Andrew Smith Co.; Heather Shavey, Costco Wholesale; Mayda Sotomayor-Kirk, Seald Sweet International / Greenyard USA; Rosemary Talley, Talley Farms; and Jenney Tenney, The Kroger Co.

Registration for the Women in Produce LIVE! General Session is free. To register for the event, visit

Founded in 1904, the United Fresh Produce Association brings together companies across every segment of the fresh produce supply chain, including growers, shippers, fresh cut processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, industry suppliers and allied associations. It empowers industry leaders to shape sound government policy and delivers the resources and expertise companies need to succeed in managing complex business and technical issues.

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