Smiarowskis celebrate 100 years of Pioneer Valley farming

  • Penny and Dan Smiarowski organized the 100th anniversary celebration of the Smiarowski family’s farms. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern speaks at the Smiarowksi family’s 100th anniversary celebration of their farms on Saturday in Sunderland. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • The Smiarowski family celebrated 100 years of its farming legacy Saturday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • The Smiarowski family celebrated 100 years of its farming legacy Saturday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Ron, Teddy, Tom, Dan and Bernie Smiarowski marked 100 years of their family’s farming legacy with a community gathering Saturday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Thursday, September 14, 2023

SUNDERLAND — If you live in the region and have picked up locally grown asparagus or potatoes, odds are you purchased something grown by the Smiarowski family.

On Saturday afternoon at the family’s Sunderland farm, members of the Smiarowski clan, friends, customers and legislators treated themselves to baked potatoes and live music to celebrate 100 years of Smiarowski farming.

“Other farms are older, but it’s still a rarity to see something this old,” said Dan Smiarowski, who owns the family’s Sunderland and Montague farms, and is the Massachusetts executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Smiarowski story traces its way back to 1913 when Alexander Smiarowski left Mieczki, Poland, to move to the United States. Upon his arrival in Philadelphia, he heard that farms in Amherst needed farmhands, so he moved to the Pioneer Valley. There, he met his wife, Julia, according to Tom Smiarowski, who, unlike his brothers, is not a farmer, but worked with the USDA for decades and now serves as president of the nonprofit that manages the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton.

Alexander and Julia Smiarowski married in 1917 and saved up enough money to purchase the family’s first parcel in Montague, which is still farmed to this day. As the family grew and the couple saved money, they were able to acquire more parcels, which were eventually taken over by their four children, Joseph, Edward, Teddy and Stanley. That generation then passed the land on to the present-day Smiarowskis.

Today, the family continues to operate its farms up and down the Connecticut River in Montague, Sunderland and Hatfield, as they produce potatoes, asparagus, strawberries, butternut squash, pumpkins and all sorts of other produce. The food is sold locally through vendors big and small, such as Whole Foods and River Valley Co-op. The family also operates the Smiarowski Farmstand and Creamy in Sunderland and Whately’s Simmers Creamy.

“All that land remains in the family and it’s still being farmed,” Tom Smiarowski said. “That’s incredible in and of itself.”

When he was doing research on the family tree, Tom Smiarowski said he looked up the village of Mieczki, Poland, and discovered the family’s long history of agriculture all made sense.

“It’s all farmland,” he said of Alexander Smiarowski’s native land.

Bernie Smiarowski, the owner of Hatfield’s Teddy Smiarowski farm, said 100 years of farming in his family is “quite a milestone” and the family’s success has always been due to their dedication.

“We saw our parents work hard,” he said. “You have to have that work ethic if you want to succeed.”

As folks mingled and enjoyed the family’s new asparagus packing facility, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, who has made many visits to numerous Smiarowski farms, said the family is a perfect example of what farmers are.

“I don’t know any people who work harder than farmers,” said McGovern, who has a long history of putting forward agricultural legislation. “Not only are they great farmers, they are very, very good people.”

Echoing that sentiment was state Rep. Natalie Blais, who has worked with the Smiarowski family numerous times over the years.

“This is really spectacular,” she said, adding that she used to bring her kids to the farm all the time. “They have given so much back to the community.”