Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Karen and Jeff Frye are two of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers!
A tie to family land can be strong and it was enough motivation for Karen and Jeff Frye to continue their families farming legacy in Carthage. Current owners of Karefree Produce Farm, Karen and Jeff both grew up on a farm and learned the importance of agriculture from a young age. “After college, I decided to work in the food and beverage industry for a few years, where I realized the importance of eating locally grown foods,” Karen said, “Jeff always loved farming and wanted to keep his granddaddy’s dream of the farm alive, so in 2009 we established the Karefree Farm that you know today.”
Although the farm is widely known for their delicious Camarosa strawberries, they also grow a variety of other fruits and vegetables such as squash, okra, muscadine grapes, figs and turnips. A typical day on the farm starts at 6 a.m. by picking up the crews and taking them to the fields that need harvesting that day. “Our days vary based on season, but there are tasks that we can count on doing pretty much year-round, such as running the market on site, interacting with customers and baking in the kitchen,” she said.
In addition to selling their products raw, Karen also bakes a variety of dishes using their seasonal produce to sell at the market, such as pound cake, tomato pie and quiche. “Most of the recipes we use were either developed by me or previous generations of our family,” Karen said, “and we are a brutally honest group so only the best dishes get sold at our market.”
In addition to the on-site market, products from Karefree Farm can be found at the Carthage Farmers Market and Pinehurst Farmers Market. Several restaurants around the area also feature products from the farm, including Ashten’s Restaurant in Southern Pines, Elliots On Linden and Scott’s Table.
Although time management when running a farm can be difficult, Karen says she wouldn’t trade anything for all the amazing people she has met and continues to build relationships with through the farm. “I love the people in the agriculture industry,” Karen said, “we have some of the best customers and school groups that come to tour our farm and learn about the process.” Karefree Farms offers a variety of agritourism events throughout the year to encourage customers, school groups and members of the community to come out. “In the spring we have a big open house with a band, vendors, ice cream and berry picking,” Karen said, “and on Mother’s Day we have a picnic for mom day where customers can come in and fill up a basket with all of moms favorite things and have a picnic here on the farm.” They also host an Easter egg hunt on the farm and a customer appreciation day in October.
Working on the food and beverage side of the industry before starting the farm gave Karen a true appreciation for eating locally grown foods. “It helps out your local community and gives back to the economy,” she said, “I like being able to say where my food came from and who picked it, and you should too.”
In the future, Karen and Jeff hope to expand the farm in many ways, including adding a nursery, outdoor market and featuring local craftsmen on the farm. “We have a lot of plans for the farm and only hope that it will continue to thrive under future generations of our family,” Karen said. When she is not on the farm, you can find Karen enjoying a peaceful moment on her front porch and spending time with her grandkids.