Edwin Matuszko, together with his wife Linda and son Josef, grow summer squash, zucchini, peppers, beets, cabbage, leeks and winter squash for area farm stands, the Pioneer Valley Growers Association and several wholesale markets. Word of mouth brings customers from as far as an hour and a half away to this 35 acre farm in Hadley, Massachusetts. Edwin’s grandfather immigrated to the Pioneer Valley from Poland and founded Twin Oaks Farm. Three generations later, Edwin carries on the family tradition. Linda does the bookkeeping for the farm and helps out in the fields. Josef, who is still in school, works hard through the summers alongside his parents.
Four years ago, Twin Oaks kicked off another project to keep them busy: baby cabbages. For Edwin’s Polish grandmother, cabbage was likely a kitchen staple, but consumers these days don’t always know what to make of it beyond cole slaw. A single serving, head of cabbage, measuring less than one pound, seemed like the perfect answer to the consumer dilemma of finding a use for an entire head of cabbage. While the concept may seem simple, it took the combined knowledge of Edwin, UMASS Extension staff and a grant from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) to develop a top notch product.
Edwin Matuszko loves growing produce, especially cabbage. Perfecting the art of growing this new product was a job that Edwin was prepared for. Finding a customer base for it, on the other hand, was a different story. Wholesale markets can limit a farmers’ ability to educate consumers about the products that they grow – making it very difficult to try something new and different So, Edwin called Michael Rozyne of Red Tomato for ideas. Together, a plan was developed get the farm and story of this unique product into the signage and price tag of the cabbage itself. And, it’s working! 2008 was Twin Oak’s most successful year so far in baby cabbage production and sales.
For Edwin though, the real reward is the job itself: “We enjoy growing cabbage. We just like it!”