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OUR HISTORY

  • 1954

    Legend has it that my father Murray had to make an emergency airplane landing on what is now the farm that we live on. He landed his plane on a straight, flat field and promptly asked the owners of the farm if it was for sale—surprisingly, they said yes. Shortly after, my parents (a pharmacist and a doctor) bought the farm and named it “Frankferd Farms.” My brother Scott and I were raised in the farmhouse until we both went away to college.

  • 1976

    After finding out that my dad was selling off pieces of the farm to pay for my college education, Betty and I dropped out of school and moved back home. My parents were still living in the farmhouse and weren’t quite ready to turn the farm over to us, so the only place left for us to stay was a building endearingly called….the pig barn. No, we weren’t living amongst boars and piglets. My mother had renovated the barn into a small craft shop called “My Country Cousins,” so it was easy for us to take over the space and make our first home together. This was great for the summer and fall, but then winter came…and we had no insulation. We hightailed it to Arizona to live with Betty’s sisters and stay warm. In Arizona, we were introduced to the world of food co-ops and bulk buying. We were inspired and wanted to take some of this mentality back east with us.

  • 1977

    After months of convincing, my parents finally agreed to sell the farm to us. They moved down to Florida for their retirement, we moved back home from a year of living in Arizona, and we began to rent out rooms of the farmhouse to help us pay our mortgage. Our tenants included young families, divorcees, and folks we had never met who ended up becoming our lifelong friends.

  • 1978

    You know how people say it takes a village to raise a kid? We learned that it takes a business to raise one. That’s why we started Frankferd Farms Milling. When our son Jeremy was born in January of ’78, I had just been laid off from my city job. Determined to be at-home parents, we bought a mill to grind our first buckwheat harvest. After meeting other budding organic farmers and buying their grain harvest, our milling business took off. For the next five years, we managed to be income self-sufficient by selling flour, boarding horses, selling hay, and renting out rooms of our farmhouse.

  • 1985

    Right before our daughter Terra was born in ’85, our biggest flour customer went out of business. They were generous enough to give us their customer and supplier list so that we could try to continue selling our products. My mom, Betty and I went to the local library to print a hand-written 1-page pricelist. We then bought some of the inventory from the closed business, re-arranged the milling building, and the first Frankferd Farms Foods warehouse was born. This included our office in the sunroom of our house and a bathroom shared by employees, customers, and our family alike. Our product line and customer base grew steadily as businesses like ours in the region were either closed or bought out by large competitors.

  • 1992

    We grew quickly...really quickly. So quickly that we were running out of space in the warehouse and on the farm in general. Our business had already taken over the entire warehouse, the garage below it, parts of our house, and parts of barns on the farm. Space was becoming quite a problem. Solution? Tractor trailers. We had to rent two trailers and park them outside of the warehouse for extra storage. This wasn't the most becoming look for the farm (or the most functional situation) and we knew we'd have to start looking into other options.

  • 1994

    There was a certain point when we knew that the business needed its own home apart from ours. Betty and I found that one of the only “safe” places on the farm to take a break from the business was a dirty horse stall in the barn. We soon discovered that this wasn’t as safe as we thought when a customer (in fancy loafers) stepped through horse manure to talk to us about opening a store. So, after years of welcoming customers into our home and farm, we decided to move the business. We bought a plot of land on Saxonburg Boulevard and began to build what is now our warehouse, office, and retail space. Frankferd moved out of our house and into our brand new space (which was conveniently built about five minutes away from the farm). The flour mill grew to inhabit the space of the entire original warehouse, and we finally got our sunroom back.

  • 1999

    After five years of squeezing our growing product line into our warehouse, we realized (yet again) that we needed more room. We started "small," adding an additional cooler and freezer onto the warehouse. This allowed us to double our refrigerated space and in turn our refrigerated product line. As it turns out, 6000 square feet wasn’t enough to space for Frankferd Farms. Even after doubling our cooler and freezer space in 1999, we still needed more room. In 2003, we built a 2500 square foot addition onto our warehouse to accommodate our growing product line and truck fleet. The space quickly filled up and we still scramble to find a home for everything in our warehouse.

  • 2011

    2011 proved to be quite an eventful year for us. In February, we welcomed our first grandkid into the world. In June, we decided to install a 10-kilowatt solar array onto the roof of our barn at the farm. These solar panels power our home, farm, and most importantly, our flour mill. It was such an exciting step for us, so we wanted to keep our solar momentum going. In November, we installed a 16-kilowatt array onto the west roof of our food warehouse. This significantly decreased our use of conventional electricity and has allowed us to sell a little electricity back to the grid when our warehouse or mill isn’t busy. We coined the term “solar flour power” and had a new logo designed so we could slap it on some t-shirts, modeled here by our incredibly good-looking staff. We also “adopted” the majority of the drive between the flour mill and the warehouse as part of the Adopt-A-Road program. A team of Frankferd staff picks up the litter multiple times during the year, making the road cleaner for us and everyone else who travels it.

  • 2012

    Soon after the new year, our solar efforts in 2011 were recognized by PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture). We were incredibly honored to accept the 2012 PASA-bilities Sustainable Agriculture Business Leader Award. Through the years, we’ve had so many interesting visitors at the farm- but our guests in 2012 might have topped the list. Two camels (Sage and Phoenix) came to stay at our pastures for a few nights on their way across the country! Through some connections and some old friends, our farm became one of the camels' stops on their journey from a sanctuary in California (The Sacred Camel Gardens) to a school in New York.

  • 2015

    In 2015, we celebrated a milestone: 30 years in business as a food distributor (and 37 as a flour mill). Getting to this point from where we started felt like a huge accomplishment, especially in such a rapidly changing industry. We clearly had a big reason to celebrate, and celebrate we did. Our staff and a number of our regional business partners joined us on our farm for an amazing dinner that was prepared by our friend Trevett Hooper. Trevett runs Legume, one of Pittsburgh’s best and most innovative restaurants, and has been a customer for many years. His team provided us with an amazing evening and this event opened up the door for many more of its kind to take place in our barn. In light of our 30th anniversary, we were interviewed by Larry Berg (a well-known local TV/radio host) and featured on Faces and Places, a show that highlights local businesses and events. Needless to say, it was a big year for us- and it set the stage for some really exciting stuff to come.

  • 2016

    After successfully hosting a dinner event for our 30th anniversary AND Terra’s wedding at our farm in 2015, we realized that the barn was a wonderful space for people to gather. We’d made a bunch of improvements to the farm for the wedding (paving the driveway, re-wiring the barn’s electricity, etc), and we realized that we had a pretty cool space to share. It had been about 20 years since we had moved the business off of the farm, and we were finally ready to start welcoming the public back to our home. We reached out to a few local chefs who were also customers of ours, and they agreed to be a part of our maiden voyage into the world of farm dinners. With a willing group of chefs, breweries & musicians as well as a bunch of mismatched dishes and tablecloths from thrift stores, our Farmer’s Fork event series was born. We wouldn’t have been able to pull off our first summer of events without the help of our son Jeremy and his family, who moved back to Pennsylvania after living in Florida for 17 years. For the first time in a really long time, we were all back on the farm together.

  • 2017

    Our businesses had always existed with pretty rudimentary technology. We started out with hand-written orders, hand-written price lists & rotary phones. Eventually, we got a fax machine, a few computers, and a copier. We begrudgingly set up a website about 5 years after we should have. We still do a lot of stuff “manually” (rather than digitally) because we haven’t been forced to change quite yet. Because of our delayed tech advances, the idea of an online shopping cart seemed a million light years away. However, after years of asking our customers to copy & paste or manually type their orders into our super basic online ordering form, we knew it was time to take the next step. We did a major upgrade to our in-house point of sale system in 2016, and one of the features of this system was the capability to set up an online shopping cart. We took the better part of a year to obtain all of the necessary item photos/details, computerize our inventory, and make all of our preparations to go digital, and we unveiled our online shopping cart in 2017. This has allowed our customers to order with more ease and know right away what an item’s price is and whether or not it is in stock. It has allowed us to cut down on unnecessary work in the office and track our inventory with more accuracy. Technologically speaking, we’ll never be ahead of the curve- but we will always try to find ways to make our business run smoother and make ordering easier for our customers. If you have any questions about our online ordering, feel free to reach out to our “tech department,” which is comprised of our son and daughter who have degrees in environmental science and communications.

  • Present

    We truly wouldn't be where we are today without the fierce support of our staff, customers, family, and friends. So much has changed since we started our business, but so much has stayed the same. The steadiness of our support system has kept us resilient in the face of so many changes. The dedication of our customers has kept us relevant in an ever-evolving industry. The love in our family has brought us back to the farm and back to our land, time and time again. We still eat together in the same kitchen and sow seeds in the same garden, but we have more hands in the dirt every year with our ever expanding brood of grandchildren. We get to teach them, even the tiniest ones, about the value of good food and respect for the earth that we walk on. We get to show them that a home cooked meal with those you love can turn any bad day around, and a bowl of Betty's salsa will always cure what ails you. We get to greet second and third generations of our customers' family members at our food warehouse, some of which have been with us since our very first year in business. This is the kind of stuff that gets us through all of the tough and challenging parts of running a business. So thank you, to all of the weirdos and foodies and homesteaders and lovers of delicious stuff who have stuck with us throughout the years and throughout the changes. We are forever grateful for your support, and we can't wait to see what's yet to come.