ORCHARDVILLE (WSIL) -- A southern Illinois farmer is sharing her story with the world. Sarah Frey took over her family's farm in Wayne County at the age of 16 and turned it into a multi-state empire.
Sarah Frey's new memoir, "The Growing Season: How I Built a New Life -- and Saved an American Farm, shares many stories of her life
in Orchardville, Illinois.
"I grew up with four older brothers here in this rural, isolated part of our country. And ultimately I ended up taking over the farm and starting my business as a teenager," she said.
She then became CEO of Frey Farms, serving fruits and vegetables to grocery stores across the country.
But she's best known for her expertise in pumpkins.
"We found out that consumers really gravitated toward the specialty varieties and more of the culinary varieties of pumpkins that we grow and that was especially exciting to me because those are actually my favorite pumpkins even though we sell millions of the orange jack-o-lantern type," she said.
She says COVID-19 created some challenges for her business, but taught her the value of local farmers.
"Consumers really wanted to know, 'where does my food come from?' They started asking questions when your favorite products weren't on the shelves--the grocery retail shelves. Then you start to like--'hey who grows my food and how's it grown? Why isn't it here? So I think there's a level of interest in agriculture," she said.
And she hopes her journey will inspire others to take a chance on themselves.
"The seasons that we go through in life that can be the most challenging are also the seasons that can teach us the most," she said.
Frey also told News 3 she's the executive producer of a new ABC series, based on her memoir.
Right now, there is no air date for "The Growing Season."