1950 was a big year for the Smiarowski family. Teddy Smiarowski, who grew up on a diversified farm in Montague, Massachusetts, married his wife Eleanor, purchased 70 acres in Hatfield and founded Smiarowski Farm. Eventually, brothers Bernie, Ron, John and Jim joined the family business and never looked back. When you ask Bernie how he got into farming, his answer is simple: “I’ve been farming all my life.”
Today, the Teddy C. Smiarowski Farm totals 500 acres of sandy loam along the Connecticut River. Originally dedicated to strawberries, potatoes and cucumbers, the family expanded the farm to include tobacco acreage, a significant crop in the Pioneer Valley. Over the years, the four brothers have each worked out their own specialty to contribute to the business. Bernie takes care of sales, pest management and irrigation. John and Jim are focused on production and labor while Ron takes care of planting and harvesting.
For the last fifteen years, Bernie has been working with the University of Massachusetts extension office to implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) standards on the farm. All the strawberry fields are scouted regularly for pests by experts from UMASS which allows the fruit to be sprayed as little as possible and with the least toxic chemicals available. Bernie also employs many IPM practices on the potato fields. “We don’t like working with chemicals,” explains Bernie, “but sometimes it can be a necessity. This way, we are using the least amount possible.”