Frecon Farms, in southeastern Pennsylvania, is as rich in history and community as it is in apples and stone fruits. Founded in 1944 by Richard S. Frecon and his wife, Martha, the orchard started out as an apple and peach farm. As fruit production grew, so did the Frecon family. They raised six children on the land, all of whom worked in the family business.
According to Steve Frecon (co-owner and head of sales and growing operations), grandson of Richard, his grandfather ran the orchard through the 1970s. Steve’s father, aunts, and uncles took the reins thereafter and never looked back. Today, the family orchard thrives, growing more than 23 types of apples (including a variety they use to make fresh cider) and a wide variety of peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, apricots, cherries, and blueberries.
Earlier this summer, Steve Frecon led a farm tour for Elijah Goodman, Daniel Intartaglio, and Alex Scaletta from The FruitGuys’ Philadelphia facility, providing insight into the mission and ethics of the orchard.
Education and Outreach
“My family is a big believer in consumer education,” Steve says. Because of this, Frecon is involved in tremendous national and statewide farm-to-school programs that expose thousands of young students to fresh fruits and vegetables. Working directly with schools in the Philadelphia region has allowed the farm to bring produce as fresh as what’s sold at their farm stand right into the cafeterias. Steve explains that educating kids about produce “creates an adult who already has a taste and passion for fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Steve sits on councils and committees in the surrounding communities to help cultivate these farm-to-school programs, working with local districts to deliver fresh fruit on a weekly basis.
Sustainability is a focus within the business, and to Frecon Farms, sustainability has many facets. As Steve says, “Environmental impact is a large part of it, but what we look at within our program is the economic sustainability of the family farm.” He goes on to explain that through education, Frecon Farms inspires new consumers to eat more local fruits and vegetables.
Their educational endeavors include a composting program for blueberries, introducing new fruit varieties to consumers, and a farm tour program (at both the elementary and high school level) that addresses orchard biology and pollination.
Their environmentally sustainable choices include maintaining a buffer zone (or wild pollinator area) to encourage natural pollination. The wooded areas along the edges of their orchards support wildflower populations and provide a natural breeding habitat for wood bees, mason bees, and bumble bees. “It’s tremendous to see the volume of natural bees in the springtime working hard on the cherry blossoms and apricot blossoms,” Steve says.
For increased pollination in the springtime, Frecon also supports a local organic vegetable grower who provides them with local honeybees.
These innovative approaches to economic, social, and environmental sustainability make us glad that Frecon Farms is part of The FruitGuys family.
Learn more about the farm by watching our video detailing our visit!
Shannan Slevin is the video and program content provider for The FruitGuys. She is a certified nutrition and health coach and is trained in Pilates and yoga. A California native residing in Oakland, Shannan lives for fresh air and dance floors.