By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
For Mike Pasztor, returning home to work on the family farm was a dream come true. Pasztor represents a new generation of farmers, who embrace change and technology. Like more and more farmers, Pasztor is active on social media platforms like Twitter, ready to engage in discussions about food and farm issues.
Interestingly, it was his brother Andy, who encouraged him to get Twitter. Mike and Andy farm together with their dad Arpad. Pasztor shares his story with Farms.com in our #FromtheFeild spotlight series. The purpose of the series is to put a face to the farmers who are actively tweeting or “reporting” using the #FromtheFeild Twitter hashtag.
Farmers are tweeting their 140 character stories behind the tractor wheel and sharing their perspectives of what an office looks like. As you can probably imagine, when farmers refer to the “office” it’s not behind a desk, for them it’s the tractor cab, and their computer is a Smartphone or iPad.
Get to know Pasztor and other farmers through their profile. Follow them on Twitter and don’t be afraid to ask questions – farmers love to chat, or in this case tweet.
Farm Name: Hemlock Lakeview Farms Inc. / A.G. Pasztor & Sons Farm Supply Ltd.
Twitter Handles: @pasztor79 (Mike) and @apasztor82 (Andy)
Photo Album: Mike's #fromthefield tweets
Location: Hemlock, Ontario (Southwest corner of Norfolk County on the shore of Lake Erie. 15 minutes west of Long Point, 45 minutes south of Woodstock).
Types of crops grown:
My family – my brother (Andy), dad (Arpad) and myself, grow a variety of crops. These crops include: corn and soybeans (on a rotation basis), and we have recently started to grow rye. In total we run - 1200 acres, which includes custom work (land work, planting and harvesting).
We also grow vegetables, handpicked cucumbers (30 acres), and handpicked jalapeño peppers (30 acres) for the processing market, and will be growing squash (20 acres) for the first time this year for the fresh market. In addition to the traditional cash crops and vegetables, we are also looking at getting into ginseng production, and this year we are trying to grow (4 acres). The vegetables and ginseng are very high value crops which require considerably more intensive management compared to that of the cash crops.
To supplement our farming income, my dad has been a Hyland Seeds dealer for 30+ years, which is something that my brother and I are slowly transitioning into. On the side, we raise a few beef cattle and Berkshire pigs, but the livestock side of it is very small scale, more of a hobby than anything else and for a very specific clientele.
How has using Twitter enhanced your farming business?
When my brother first told me about twitter, I thought it was more of a joke and social media fad for “teeny boppers.” However, since joining the Twitterverse, I've realized what a powerful and effective tool it can be if used in the right way.
This is especially true in the farming community when isolation can sometimes be an obstacle. In this case, Twitter has allowed us to market and advertise services, as well as connect with people throughout North America and the world. But perhaps the neatest aspect about Twitter is that it has provided us with a glimpse into new products, farming practices and information/education – all things that we take into consideration when looking to enhance our farming operation to make it more sustainable and efficient.
On the flip side, Twitter has also allowed us to connect with the non-farming community, and show how and why things are done on the farm in order to produce, healthy, affordable and sustainable food for my family and theirs. This dynamic provides farmers like myself with a platform to correct a lot of misinformation/misconceptions that are out there about modern agriculture and farming practices.
What is an interesting fact about your farming operation?
Probably the most notable difference between our operation and other areas of the province (Ontario) is the diversity. Norfolk County is known as "Ontario's Garden" because of the proximity to Lake Erie. Interestedly, farming on the sand plain and having access to water, has allowed us to grow just about anything here. This could be a huge opportunity in the future, especially with drought and water shortages affecting California. Throughout the area you will find representation from nearly every sector of agriculture you can think of.
What makes you proud to farm?
From my perspective, having been born and raised on the farm you don't really think anything differently about it. It's just the way we live and the way everyone around us does. It wasn't until I went away to university that I realized what a different lifestyle I came from.
After finishing school I worked in Kitchener, Ont., off the farm for many years, all the while spending my weekends and "vacation" time back on the farm. The Friday afternoon drive back to the farm was always exciting, while the Sunday night drive back to the city was not so much. So, when I had the chance last fall (2013) to come back to the farm full time I didn't hesitate!
What makes me proud to farm is being a part of a relatively small fraternity of people who, through hard work, dedication and perseverance, add something of substance to the communities we live in and the world as a whole. You might not get paid every week and the risk is higher than say a nine to five, but you can't put a price on the freedom and opportunity this kind of lifestyle entails.
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