The history of Rendleman Orchards dates back to 1873 when John and Isabelle Rendleman settled near Alto Pass, Ill. and established an 88-acre family farm. The small farm evolved over the years, establishing orchards in the early 1900s and eventually growing to over 800 acres that includes orchards, vegetable fields, forestland, as well as seasonal flower production and pollinator habitat.
The farm has remained in the family and Wayne Sirles, along with his wife Michelle, are the fifth generation to grow fruit on the farm. The couple met as students at Southern Illinois University (SIU) where Wayne obtained an Agriculture degree and Michelle a Graphic Design degree. Upon graduation, they married and raised their children in Southern Illinois, finding success in the region due to the fruitful soil, climate, and close proximity to larger metropolitan areas like St. Louis, Evansville, Nashville, Chicago, and Indianapolis, which allowed for easy distribution to large grocers across the country.
On the Southern Illinois region, Michelle shares, "My husband Wayne and I feel blessed to live, work and operate our multi-generational family business in Southern Illinois which has thrived here for 149 years. The incredible natural beauty, along with stellar healthcare and education systems in Southern Illinois ensure our family will be here to enjoy all aspects of this area for many generations to come.”
Since Michelle Sirles joined Rendleman Orchards full-time in 2014 as an Owner and Vice President, the farm market has expanded product offerings and reach while also optimizing the customer experience. While many visit Rendleman’s to purchase apples, peaches, clothing, and other local goods, they have further expanded their customer base through unique Instagram-worthy flower fields and displays. Collaborating with a local florist from Deliciously Ordinary, they have installed photography stations which attract thousands of visitors to their zinnia and sunflower fields for photo-ops and family fun. Their website also allows nationwide shipping for merchandise and fruit gift boxes with fruit straight from the orchards.
"It warms our heart to see how many families come out. Three and four generations together, doing an activity here. Going out to the flower fields, cutting flowers, getting family photos,” added Michelle.
Michelle and Wayne are also committed to serving as leaders in sustainable food production as well as being ambassadors for the region. Recently, they have added four acres of flower fields and an additional six acres of fallow land to serve as pollinator habitats for bees. The pollinator mixes provide food for all types of bee species which helps the overall bee population in the region. Additionally, Rendleman Orchards has been recognized as an official Monarch Waystation which provides Monarch butterflies a safe haven to sustain their migration and produce new generations.
“Our business has certainly been fortunate to receive the support we have over the decades in each new endeavor. This region has been good to us. We’re looking forward to celebrating 150 years in business next year with the people of Southern Illinois that have made it so,” Michelle shared.