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Family develops new business out of fruit farm in Boyertown

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Feb 25 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 26 2013 05:56:10 PM CST

For every business that has to give up on Berks County, there are dozens that don't.

BOYERTOWN, Pa. -

For every business that has to give up on Berks County, there are dozens that don't.

Frecon Farms in Boyertown, known for its fruit, is such a company in this two-part report on what's right in Berks County.

Early harvested apples, stacked in crates, are a special recipe.

"Big in England, very tart, tanic," explained Hank Frecon. "So, when you taste it, it hits you in the back. So, that's a crab apple."

Frecon is helping to take his family's business into the next generation.

"This is the first year we've been able to take that and move it to our farm and truly actually be an estate cidery," said Frecon.

Frecon's grandfather started growing fruit in 1944. 

"I always run into people all the time, like, 'I used to work for your grandfather. I've worked on your farm 30 years ago,'" said Frecon, noting that the third generation of the business needed to grow. "You have to start thinking creatively about the economics, how many family members are working."

Frecon said he thinks there will be plenty of work with a cidery as well the brewery they are calling "The Other Farm Brewing Company."

"We see that evolution and see other people who've worked in and around the farm, and we want to continue that," said Frecon. "Through all the lines of business, we probably employ roughly 30-some people. That's today. If we keep expanding, we'd love to see that number double in the next few years."

It started when they calculated their special blend of apples and loaded the apples into the hopper at Bauman's. Inside, the apples became mush and pressed into pure apple juice. The liquid was loaded into a massive tank to be taken from Bauman's, where it was made back to the farm where the apples were grown. It's a short trip to Frecon Farms.

For the first time, the fermentation happened on the farm. Steve Frecon, Hank's brother, took the tank into the refurbished barn. Steve Frecon said the brown juice will become clear.

"It's about a five month process from start to finish," said Steve Frecon.

The fruits of their labor were poured into fermentation tanks. Eventually, the juice will become their Early Man Cider, not sweet but dry.

"Farming has been really tough over the years," said Frecon. "This is huge for my whole family."  

And huge for a community that will benefit from the new industry.

"If people can find industry in their backdoor, it makes it a lot more sense than commuting to King of Prussia or down to Philadelphia or New York everyday," said Hank Frecon.