Rendleman Orchards rings in 150 years
Local, state leaders celebrate multi-generational family farm
The Rendleman family rang in its 150th season Wednesday, marking the occasion with a celebration including dignitaries from all over the state.
The family farm, located in Union County, was founded in 1873. Ren Sirles ran the organization for more than 50 years.
"We stand on our ancestors' shoulders. All of us do. Through their trials, and their tribulations, and their guidance. I was a very lucky, lucky person to marry Betty after college and also to be guided by my parents - my mother, my grandfather, and my uncle. It was a wonderful way to grow up on this farm. Thank you!"
In 150 years, Rendleman Orchards has provided more than just produce to markets across the Midwest. It's also supplied mules during the Great Depression, and countless jobs for migrant workers, returning veterans, high school and college students, and more.
State Agriculture Director Jerry Costello says it's not just about staying in business - it's about taking care of the community - and points out Rendleman Orchards was the first farm to participate in the state's farm to foodbank program.
"Five-hundred thousand pounds of fruits and vegetables came out of this farm to the food insecure in the first year. Five-hundred thousand pounds the first year!"
State Comptroller Susana Mendoza says the longevity of Rendleman Orchards is a testament to the family and the generations of farm workers.
"Thank you to the Rendleman family. Past and present. To Wayne and Michelle Sirles, you represent the very best of Illinois: hard work, determination, meeting the challenges of the changing seasons, and sharing in the harvest."
Wayne Sirles currently heads up Rendleman Orchards with his wife, Michelle. He thanked his parents for continuing the farm for more than 50 years, and says he's excited about the future.
"By the support shown to us today, I can confidently say our future looks very bright in southern Illinois. I'm proud to be from southern Illinois!"
Rendleman Orchards is located off of Highway 127 in Alto Pass.