From Pumpkin Patch To Goldmine

reynolds, pumpkin

It's that season again: Pumpkin season.

But for Sarah Talley, it's really that season, CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds reports.

She runs Frey Farms Produce, the single-largest pumpkin producer in the nation.

Does she have a soft spot in her heart for the pumpkin?

"I do, I do," she said. "You can tell. I just love 'em. They make me happy."

Today, during all the pitch and catch of a pumpkin harvest at its peak, it's hard to imagine that all of this began with a young girl and a dream.

The youngest in her family, Talley was the only offspring who stayed on the land, sharing her parents' interest in farming - and especially marketing.

"I think that I probably transitioned into a businesswoman at the age of 8," she laughed.

With a healthy dose of Midwestern moxie, she literally began to grow her family's business - one plant after another.

"It really wasn't until just a few years ago that it was like 'wow', we're selling millions of these," she said.

That's when she saw the pumpkin as a means to another end - reuniting her far-flung family in the business, persuading siblings Ted, Harley, John and Leonard to join her.

As well as a host of others, on land that has expanded from 15 acres to 5,000 acres.

In one field alone, Sarah and her brothers produce more than 350,000 pumpkins. And yet that is less than one tenth of their annual pumpkin harvest. They sign up customers in Illinois, Indiana and beyond.

The Harvard Business School has even made a case study of her negotiations with Wal-Mart. Sarah started small, bought pumpkins from other farmers when her harvest yield was low, and now sells more than 1 million pumpkins a year to the superstore.

Today her pumpkins come in different textures, different sizes and different colors. She's even written a book about the business, which now involves a lot more than humble Jack o'lantern motifs.

Talley and her beloved pumpkins have strong roots that run deep.