Published in CISA’s October 2009 Enewsletter.
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In 1950, Joe Calabrese left his career as a pig farmer in Agawam to start his own vegetable farm in Southwick. Calabrese Farm, now 200 acres with 80,000 sq. ft. of greenhouses, is presently run by Joe’s son Tom, and his wife Donna. Their produce is sold wholesale, and can also be found at their roadside stand.
Tom grew up working on his father’s farm and received additional education at the Stockbridge School at UMass Amherst. Donna met Tom when she began working at Calabrese Farm in high school. “I knew what I was getting into,” says Donna, “and I liked it.” They married in 1978, and took over the farm in 1995. They have also raised three children. Danielle, Michael, and Joe, ranging from early to mid-twenties in age, all work full time for their parents. Joe, 27, is also renting additional land throughout Southwick for grain corn. Their involvement and strong interest in farming most likely means the land will stay in the family for another generation.
Much of their work begins in the greenhouses, which is where Donna enjoys working the most. She can be found growing flowers throughout the coldest winter months. Their greenhouses also host cucumbers, peppers, and hothouse tomatoes which are available by the beginning of May. Additionally, many of their crops are seeded indoors, and transplanted later in the spring. Their produce is available from May through the end of October at their farm stand in Southwick. They estimate that 60% of their produce goes through their stand, 20% goes to other stands, and the remaining 20% goes to warehouses and co-ops such as Big Y, Pioneer Valley Growers Association, and Randall’s in Ludlow. In the future, they imagine selling a larger percentage out of their roadside stand, so if you find yourself in Southwick, keep your eyes peeled for Calabrese Farm on Feeding Hills Road.