So often, working at the farmstand we are asked about the history of the farm and our family.
Our family originated in Bavaria, Germany. In the mid-1800s, they made the trek to America. Land was purchased along River Road on the north side of Naperville, Illinois. Farming started 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.
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. There was a table by 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 retired from farming at that time, allowing his two sons, Frank III and Ray, to raise corn, soybeans, oats, hay, and cattle. The dairying was discontinued.
During the mid-1980s, with more and more rentable acres disappearing, a large portion of the farm was traded for more farmland in Plainfield.
In 1991, vegetables were again grown on the Keller farm. Frank IV opened his first vegetable stand along 95th Street. A second vegetable stand was opened on the Plainfield farm located along the former Route 30 (now Wallin Drive) and Route 126 intersection in 1993.
Big changes occurred in the late 1990s with plans for a four-lane highway to connect Naperville and Bolingbrook cutting 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. One acre was kept to allow the farmstand to remain on Knoch Knolls Road.
The Oswego farmstand opened in 2008 along Johnson Road. This became the home farm where we grow all the sweet corn, bedding plants, pumpkins, vegetables, and apples. This location is also where we have our activities on Saturdays and Sundays in the fall: pumpkin patch, corn maze, wagon rides, and farm animals. The apple orchard is home to 5,000 apple trees with pick-your-own beginning in late August. In years to come, more and more trees will be maturing and adding more production.