North Carolina-based company hand picks Cahoon Farms in its mission of selling locally grown fruit year-round

Want cherries in January? Think shipments from Chile. That’s what Patrick Mateer wanted to avoid when he launched his business in 2015. Mateer came up with the idea for his frozen fruit company while working farmers markets as a student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He saw the insatiable demand for local food. Yet, small family farms couldn’t sell all of their yearly crop.

So the UNC grad rolled out a plan. Seal the Seasons was born.

Working with local farmers, state by state, Seal the Seasons freezes their fruits at peak of freshness and then sells the products in the areas where they were grown. Initially taking off in the Carolinas, now Seal the Seasons contracts with farmers in multiple regions of the country to sell their products locally — in the Southeast, Northeast, Pacific Northwest and Midwest/Great Lakes. California-grown local frozen fruit is coming soon to the Pacific Southwest.

While most fruit bought outside of the fresh seasons comes from all over the world, Mateer said there’s great fruit available right here in the United States — no need to truck or ship fruit thousands of miles over land and sea, he says.

New York cherries in January? No problem.

Think 12 months a year for cherries from Cahoon Farms in Wayne County. Seal the Seasons not long ago got wind of operations on the 800-acre, third-generation family fruit farm.

“They saw our capabilities and the products we have to offer,” said Chuck Frederick, frozen fruit sales manager for the farm in Wolcott. Cahoon uses equipment and methods to be especially adept at quick freezing fruit to seal in freshness and flavor. A no-brainer for Mateer and company. It didn’t take long for Seal the Seasons to pick Cahoon as the company’s sole supplier of frozen apples and cherries sold in New York.

“We found them to be a really good partner,” said Mateer. Their longevity, culture, mentality and collaboration with other local farmers makes them a perfect fit, he said.

At Cahoon Farms, Frederick said Seal the Seasons represents a tiny piece of their overall business. Cahoon has some 50 customers through its wholesale distribution. Its fruits are largely used in the making of baked goods and other products for bakeries and grocery chains.

Still, there’s pride in being a Seal the Seasons supplier for New York.

“Seal the Seasons recognizes our value,” said Frederick, who has worked for Cahoon Farms for more than two decades.

Mateer said Cahoon Farms is featured on various-sized packages of their frozen cherries and cherry-apple-berry blend. The packages are sold across the state in ShopRite grocery stores and Whole Foods markets. Coming this February, an additional grocery chain will be added in New York.

“We keep it local. That is our brand promise,” Mateer said.