How did Keller’s Farmstand begin? Generations of farmers!
Our family originated in Germany. In the mid-1800s, Adam Keller made the trek to America. He purchased land along River Road on the north side of Naperville, Illinois and started farming around 1852. The first Frank Keller grew up on that River Road farm. During hard times, he worked as a cashier at The Naperville Bank and then returned to farming on a new farm along Ogden Avenue in unincorporated Naperville.
Grandpa, Dad, and Uncle Ray
Frank Jr. was born in 1911 and farmed with his father. The farm on Ogden Avenue was primarily a dairy operation, but a wide variety of crops were raised including apples, grapes, raspberries, and five acres of potatoes. These homegrown crops got our family through The Great Depression. Frank and family set up a table next to the road where they sold produce to passersby. Technically it was the first Keller’s Farmstand!
In 1966, Frank Jr. sold the Ogden Avenue farm and purchased a larger farm on 95th Street (now Knoch Knolls Road) in southern Naperville. He then retired from farming, allowing his two sons, Frank III and Ray, to raise corn, soybeans, oats, hay, and cattle. At that time, they decided to discontinue the dairying.
During the mid-1980s, more and more rentable acres disappeared. Because of that, a large portion of the farm was traded for more farmland in Plainfield.
How Keller’s Farmstand Began
Naperville Farmstand – Keller’s Farmstand officially started back in 1991. Frank Keller IV served in the Peace Corps for 2 years (1988-1991) in Lesotho, Africa. He helped local farmers learn new skills for growing bigger and better crops. Upon returning home in 1991, Frank began growing homegrown vegetables and opened his first vegetable stand on a cart in the Naperville farm driveway on 95th Street (now Knoch Knolls Road). As business picked up, he built a small farmstand and, years later, expanded to the large farmstand still standing on our original farm soil.
Plainfield Farmstand – We opened a second farmstand in 1993 on our Plainfield farm located along the former Route 30 (now Wallin Drive) and Route 126 intersection. It is located inside one of our big red barns.
Big changes occurred in the late 1990s with plans for a four-lane highway to connect Naperville and Bolingbrook which cut through the middle of the farm. Our family decided to acquire land in Oswego to make up for the loss of the home farm in Naperville. We kept one acre to allow the Naperville Farmstand to remain on the farm property.
Oswego Farmstand – We opened the largest of our farmstands in 2007 along Johnson Road. This became the home farm where we grow all the bedding plants, sweet corn, vegetables, apples, and pumpkins. The Oswego Farmstand is also where we have our Fall Festivities on Saturdays and Sundays in the fall: pumpkin patch, corn maze, wagon rides, farm animals, and more. The apple orchard houses 9,000 apple trees with pick-your-own beginning in late August. In years to come, more trees will mature and add to our list of apple varieties.
In addition, we set up our Fox Valley Mall Summer Market for the sweet corn season. It is located at the north end of Fox Valley Mall parking lot near Habitat for Humanity ReStore.