Local Stone Fruit From Frecon Farms

Frecon Farms Apple Cake RecipeEstablished in 1944 in Boyertown, PA, Frecon Farms has been growing locally for 70 years. Originally a producer of apples and peaches with a focus on the wholesale market, the farm now grows 23 varieties of apples for wholesale, retail, and the production of hard cider. The farm also produces seasonal yellow, white, and flat peaches, 15 varieties of sweet and tart cherries, blueberries, and a variety of plums and pears. The Frecon family continues to farm the land they grew up on, using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and lots of hard work to preserve the orchards and maintain seasonal harvests. We recently had the chance to talk with Steve Frecon about what it was like to grow up on the family farm, and his experience as a farmer.

What are your fondest memories of growing up on a farm?

There are so many, but all involve time with my family in the orchard. Camping in the orchard by the back pond…sitting on the front porch with my grandfather on summer evenings, looking out over the orchard and meadow, listening to his stories of farming and growing up in the Great Depression.

What is your mission as a small farmer?

My brother, sister, brother-in-law and I came back to the farm about 10 years ago to preserve the farm for another generation. Our mission is to ecologically and economically preserve my family’s farm through the cultivation of high quality produce, value added products and consumer services.Freecon Farms

What is the most important piece of information about farming that you’ve learned from past generations?

Hard work can never be underestimated, but I’ve learned that persistent patience and planning are most critical. Taking the time to plan for the next 15 years is critical in tree fruits, and having the persistence and patience to see through that plan takes mental fortitude. If you do it right from the beginning and patiently work through the plan, the results will be evident in the final product.

How has the variety of fruit trees expanded throughout the years?

Frecon Farm’s variety of fruit trees has changed drastically since it’s beginning in 1944. Originally a producer of shipping apples and peaches with 100% focus on the wholesale shippers market, the farm now grows 23 varieties of apples grown for wholesale shipping, retail, and the production of hard cider; yellow, white, and flat peaches that are harvested fresh from July to September; 15 varieties of sweet and tart cherries; blueberries harvested June through September, and a variety of plums and pears.

Frecon Farms Kimberton Whole FoodsThe farm uses IPM to control pests – any unique approaches?

We use pheromone traps to reduce certain insect populations to non-threatening levels. Tiny little bands are placed on trees that are baited with particular pests’ pheromones and result in mating pairs never finding each other to produce new generations. Nothing is sprayed, no fuel is expended and there is no residual effect in the environment. On the humorous side, we used a “sky dancer” like one would see at a used car dealership to scare birds from the cherry orchard and blueberry fields…also very effective!

Want to learn more about IPM? Check out our Commonly Asked Questions Page!

Explain what you think the importance is of buying, selling and eating local.

Local is a web with many connected parts that yield shared results beneficial to all of us. It’s all about creating a better community. Buyers are reducing their carbon footprint and total impact to the environment, in addition to participating in the preservation of our farm land and open spaces. Sellers also reduce our impact to the environment by not expending fuel shipping produce across the globe. By cultivating a sustaining local market we in turn diversify to provide more to that local market, which preserves our farm land and open spaces. Being local creates jobs for our friends and neighbors on the farm and in the local food distribution system, which means they get to work and live closer to home. All of this is good for our community and each other. The best way to support local farms is so simple we sometime miss it…all you have to do is buy from them. Take a minute to stop at their roadside stands, go to a farmers market, send a letter to the food director of your school district and let them know you would like to see local produce in the school lunch menu, or ask your local market why they are not carrying local produce when it’s in season and let them know you would buy it if they had it. All we have to do as individuals is create the demand by buying or asking for local produce. Hats off to those of you already supporting these programs no matter where you are in the food system, the farmers can already see the difference.

Freecon FarmsYour favorite fruit off the farm? Favorite apple recipe?

I’m a seasonal eater. In September, I eat Jonagold apples. I love my Mom’s apple cake. In the recipe she finds a way to incorporate apples in whole form, cider (as a replacement for sugar) and apple butter. It’s overflowing with apple goodness!

What is your favorite time of the day, or time of year on the farm?

Early evening in the fall. The farm is a noisy place during harvest season; tractors and trucks coming and going, the hum of the packing equipment grading and boxing apples, forklifts running left and right, and a flurry of employees busily working to harvest, pack and sell all that fruit. Around 5:30 pm the noises subside, the air cools and there is a rich aroma of apples and earth all around me. I’m fortunate to work in this environment and the quiet calm of fall reminds me why we do this – it lets me reflect on my years on the farm and gives me time to think about the future and to be thankful.

5 thoughts on “Local Stone Fruit From Frecon Farms

  1. I am truly puzzled about why the health food industry promotes local farms and their products if they’re not organic. Local farmers spray pesticides and herbicides on their crops just like farmers who plant GMO crops, so why should your customers “buy local”? I have been to the Frecon store in Boyertown and the only organic product I was shown was some jam. None of the produce was organic. I don’t understand how food that is loaded with pesticides and herbicides can be healthy, so please help me understand why local farms are better than any other. Thank you.

    • Hello Susan,

      Thank you for your feedback. We made the choice to work with Frecon Farms after visiting the farm and understanding the IPM methods they use as practices that physically block pests from their crops. These practices are used by certain local farms as an alternative to using unnecessary chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides. We fully support Frecon Farms, and we encourage you to visit their website to learn more about their growing practices (http://www.freconfarms.com/the-farm/growing-practices.html) and to reach out to them with any questions you may have.

      We hope that our definition of IPM below will also help to clarify what these growing practices entail:

      What is IPM?

      Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a process farmers can use to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. IPM focuses on long-term prevention of pests and their damage by managing the farm’s ecosystem through biological, cultural, mechanical and (as a last resort) chemical controls. Many times IPM produce is grown without the use of chemical pesticides, but when a farmer determines that chemical intervention is required, he or she will use care in applying the most selective pesticide that will do the job while being safest to other organisms, air, soil and water quality. IPM is a solution used by some small local farms who do not farm organically.

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