To trace the growth of the current Eckert orchard business, one would have to start in 1837 when Johann Peter landed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from Dietzenbach, Hesse Darmestadt, Germany with his wife and four sons. As German tradition would have it, Johann Peter farmed and eventually bought each of his sons a farm. Johanns son Michael, followed his instinctive love for the land and lived on the farm we now call Drum Hill, near Fayetteville, Illinois.
It was on this farm that the first fruit trees were planted in 1862. Michael Eckert had three children, but only one son, Henry, lived until adulthood. After his marriage in 1877, Henry built the present Eckert home on Turkey Hill in 1880. The first fruit trees were planted on Turkey Hill in 1890. Henry and Mary Eckert had three sons and a daughter, who died in infancy. Their youngest son, Alvin O., married Ella Heinrich and resided in the family home where they raised three sons, Cornell, Curt, and Vernon.
Turkey Hill farm is what we call our Belleville farm. The first roadside farm stand was opened on Turkey Hill by Alvin O. in 1910 and became the nucleus of our growing business. All three sons majored in agriculture at the University of Illinois and returned home after graduation to turn the business into a father-son’s partnership.
Today, the sixth and seventh generations oversee the daily operations of the Eckert farms. Jim Eckert, son of Juanita and Vernon, is President of Eckert Orchards and is the company's chief horticulturist. Lary Eckert, son of Curt and Ruth, recently resigned as President of Eckert's, Inc., after presiding over the company for 30 years. Succeeding Lary Eckert as president is Lary's son, Chris Eckert. Chris oversees retail operations, as well as the growing and wholesaling of home grown products. Additionally, Lary's daughter, Jill Eckert-Tantillo is Vice-President of Marketing and Food Services. Angie Eckert, Chris’s wife, is Vice-President of Retail Operations for both the Country Store and the Garden Center.