My name is Michelle Sirles. I am vice president of Rendleman Orchards, a centennial family farm, located in Alto Pass, Illinois. Rendleman Orchards are growers and shippers of quality fruits and vegetables since 1873.
What does your business do?
Rendleman Orchards is a specialty crop grower. We raise small fruits and vegetables such as peaches, nectarines, apples, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers and green beans for the wholesale market throughout the Midwest.
We also have an on-farm retail farm market as well as a Missouri pop-up market in which we sell our locally-grown produce and value-added products directly to the consumer.
We are a centennial family farm that began in 1873, with the first Rendleman’s that settled here. In those times that is often what new settlers did for their livelihood, began farming their land.
What do you love most about doing business in Southern Illinois?
We love that we can continue to do what our ancestors before us have done for 145 years on the same land in southern Illinois. The rolling hills of Alto Pass are a wonderful landscape for growing fruit trees. The hillsides are not only beautiful but provide our trees with the necessary drainage required to grow fruit successfully. Southern Illinois also provides us a unique niche market for our produce. When the southern state’s harvest is ending, ours is beginning. We are about a month ahead of production in our northern states. This allows us to get our produce to market at an optimal selling time.
What’s one thing visitors to your business might be surprised to know about your orchards?
Most visitors are quite surprised when they find out how long our family has been doing this. Not many businesses survive to the 5th and 6th generations.
Another thing that surprises visitors is how hilly it is in Alto Pass. Most people think the entire state is flat like central Illinois.
The best surprise is the look on their face when they bite into a tree-ripened peach or apple and taste the flavor. So many people have never been to a farm to buy directly from a farmer hours after their food has been harvested. That freshness and flavor just cannot be beaten!
Equally as much as being in the produce business, we are in the people business! It is our goal to provide the best customer service to each individual that comes to see us at the farm as well as our wholesale buyers that purchase a semi-load from us. It is hard to put into words just how much we appreciate each person that supports our family farm, allowing us to continue a family tradition that is in our hearts and blood. Farming the land is a privilege, not a right. We are caretakers of this land in hopes that our children and grandchildren will find satisfaction in this lifestyle and livelihood for their families one day. We hope we are able to share that lifestyle with the folks that eat our produce.
For more information on Rendleman Orchards, visit www.rendlemanorchards.com
Find a place to stay at Shawnee Wine Trail Lodging Association.