So often, while working at the farmstands, we are asked about the history of the farm and our family. (1891) Adam Keller (middle row), Frank Keller (front row, center)
Our family originated in Germany. In the mid-1800s, Adam Keller 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.
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, he 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 build a small farmstand and, years later, expanded to the large farmstand still standing on our original farm soil.
Plainfield Farmstand – A second farmstand was opened 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. One acre was kept to allow the Naperville Farmstand to remain on the farm property.
Oswego Farmstand – The largest of our farmstands opened in 2007 along Johnson Road. This became the home farm where we grow all the bedding plants, sweet corn, vegetables, apples, and pumpkins. This location 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 is home to 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 open 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.