Roadside market peddles produce for 63 years
For 63 years, the Frei family has operated their open-air fruit market on Old Highway 91 in Santa Clara, Utah.
Despite new roadways and changing consumers, Frei’s Fruit Market has persisted and evolved into a multi-generation family tradition that celebrates the bounty of the Beehive State.
It started back in 1956 when most residents of Santa Clara grew their own fruits and vegetables, including Landon and Wanda Frei.
“We had a year that apples did really well,” recalls Vicky Lasswell, daughter of Landon and Wanda. “So mom put a card table out and started selling apples in October to the deer hunters.”
After leasing a couple of fruit stands over the years to sell more of the produce they grew on their small farm, the Freis eventually built their own stand.
They brought fruit in from other Santa Clara farms, Northern Utah, and nearby Colorado growers, which harvested later and allowed them to extend their season.
Vicky grew up around the fruit market, which opened when she was 12. She worked hard to help her family, as did most of the kids in Santa Clara at the time, who would find jobs pulling onions, bunching radishes, and digging potatoes.
Though she moved away briefly after getting married, Vicky returned to Santa Clara in 1973 and she’s been working at the market ever since.
In 1978, Highway 91, once the main thoroughfare between California and Salt Lake City, was replaced by Interstate 15. The fruit stands that once dotted the streets of Santa Clara began to disappear.
“We were the only fruit stand that stayed after they put the new road in,” says Vicky. “We struggled a little bit, but people got to know we were here, and the old-timers continued to be repeat customers, so we made it.”
Frei’s Over the years
The market diversified with more Utah-centric products, such as local salt and spices, jams and jellies, salsa, sauces and honey.
In 2007, at 91 years old, Landon and Wanda turned operations of the fruit market over to Vicky and her brother Bryce, who runs the farm. Four years ago, Vicky’s son JD became the manager.
“I grew up here my whole life, moved away to go to school and become a teacher,” says JD. “Every summer I came back to help grandma and grandpa. I worked both in the field and in the fruit market.”
Since becoming manager, JD has worked to keep the fruit market relevant for all generations.
“People don’t just show up to a fruit market nowadays for an apple or orange. People need a reason to come to the market with their kids. That’s why we added the events.”
Frei’s now hosts a Peach Day event with food trucks and all-things peachy and a festive fall pumpkin patch. During the month of December they sell trees, host Santa, and sell hot chocolate.
“We work to make it a real family friendly environment and share how passionate we are about family and being together and growing together. It’s not just about the money,” says JD.
He enjoys seeing grandmothers come into the market with their daughters and granddaughters to buy produce to carry on traditions such as canning.
“It’s taken me awhile to figure this out,” says Vicky. “I feel like we’re a service to people. It’s not about the money to me. It’s that I’m giving people a good fresh product that they can’t get everywhere and that feels good.”
Frei’s Fruit Market
2895 West Santa Clara Dr.
Santa Clara, UT 84765
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