2 New Books with Naples Ties

Sarah Frey and Paul Van Buskirk deliver exciting new reads that trace back to their lives in Southwest Florida


Sarah Frey’s story of perseverance begins on a poverty-ridden farm in Illinois, where she grew up alongside her large family. In The Growing Season (Ballantine Books, 2020), Frey details her path from her difficult upbringing to accomplishments in agriculture. At 17, she began working with the nation’s biggest retailers, becoming so legendary that Harvard Business School published some of her deals as case studies. Today Frey Farms is one of America’s largest fresh produce growers and shippers, operating farms in seven states. With a goal of reducing food waste, Frey began producing beverages from the “ugly fruit,” or fruit with imperfections that otherwise wouldn’t be likely to sell. Watermelons are the biggest part of Frey’s business in Florida, and so she has developed and sells watermelon juice as a way to use ones that might otherwise go to waste. She owns three farms and a citrus grove in Florida, and she divides her time between her home in Naples and her family farm in Illinois.

In the 1960s, Paul Van Buskirk, PhD, was a young engineer living in upstate New York who created the Citizens Party without any prior work in politics. He shares his political observations in Big Mike, Uncle Dan and Me (BookBaby, 2020). In this autobiography, Van Buskirk demonstrates how he obtained success throughout the years, while shedding light on the local political atmosphere of the time. He also discusses the unseen stories—including an attempt on his life—that eventually led to the Citizens Party’s downfall. Although Van Buskirk writes on events from more than 50 years ago, the tales of the people’s rise to action will resonate today. Van Buskirk moved to Southwest Florida and has spent the past 40 years living in the Naples area. He has more recently established himself as a writer and as a guest lecturer, teaching at the University of Florida and Yale University. His consulting firm, Metro Forecasting Models, uses their urban planning and engineering expertise to help local governments and school boards. —Megan Graham

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