Class Act: Sam Frey and Tad Ghanem

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Photo by Kristin Prelipp, KPO Photo

“All you need to know in life, you can learn by growing a garden.” That was Kip Frey’s belief, and his two young sons, Andrew and Sam, reaped what he sowed. Well, what they sowed.

“So, my brother and I grew up growing all these vegetables that we didn’t really have fun eating,” Sam (pictured left) says. “About four or five years ago, we came up with this idea to start Frey Brothers Farms. We could do something with the vegetables we grew and have an impact in the community – and we didn’t necessarily have to eat them all.”

Of course, giving away the vegetables they’d rather not eat at dinner isn’t the only reason Sam and his brother decided to start the farm, which primarily grows tomatoes. “Every Sunday morning, we’d work like, four hours in the garden, and it taught us so much about timing, hard work, getting along with each other and setting a strict schedule,” Sam says. “Learning how to grow with your garden, and giving back to the community as well, is just a really great pairing.”

As Sam was tending his garden, Tad Ghanem’s father, Robert, was also teaching his son how to grow different herbs and vegetables in their own home garden, which eventually expanded to a plot of land on Shannon Road where Tad helps grow herbs like basil, mint and rosemary to use in the meals at his parents’ restaurants, Saladelia Cafe and Mad Hatter’s Cafe & Bakeshop. Though the guys had been best friends since kindergarten at Durham Academy, it wasn’t until a few years ago that Tad and Sam decided to join forces and create Durham GardenWorks, a volunteer program that teaches middle- and high-school students how to grow organic produce, and then donates it to local charities like Durham Rescue Mission and Urban Ministries of Durham. Recently, Tad set up an agreement with U.S. Foods to help them provide donations to the Urban Ministries’ pantry over six months. “[Durham GardenWorks] has helped me realize the importance of community service and … how we can help our community get better as a whole,” Tad says.

They’re planning to teach at the community garden at Urban Ministries over the summer. Next year, they’re hoping to rejuvenate a garden at Durham Academy’s lower school. “We’re blessed to be able to grow these things and learn from them,” Sam says. “Our goal is to give back to the community what it’s given to us and become this huge service project where we can teach younger kids to learn through this unique and creative way of growing plants, too.”

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Amanda MacLaren

Amanda MacLaren is the executive editor of Durham Magazine. Born in Mesa, Arizona, she grew up in Charlotte and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, majoring in journalism. She’s lived in Durham for eight years. When she’s not at work, you can usually find her with a beer in hand at Fullsteam, Dain’s Place or Bull City Burger or getting takeout from Guasaca.

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