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Middle Island Farm Family Enterprise

Footnotes to Long Island History

Middle Island Farm Family Enterprise

by
Thomas R. Bayles

 


The farm of Kazmier Szuster & Sons on Yaphank  Road, Middle Island, is a typical example of what hard work and modern farm management has accomplished. Mr. and Mrs. Szuster came to this country from Poland in 1911, just 50 years ago, and he worked on farms and later leased farms to operate himself for several years. Finally, he purchased the farm where they live and as time went on purchased the old Hurtin farm adjoining so that they now have about 150 acres under cultivation.

Mr. and Mrs. Szuster raised a large family of 10 children and four of the boys, Mike, Paul, John, and Joe have remained on the farm, which is operated as a family enterprise, and a very successful one.

Of the 150 acres cultivated, about 100 acres of potatoes, 25 sores of cauliflower, and two acres of strawberries and about 25 acres of mixed vegetables, cabbage, beans, tomatoes, peppers, etc., are raised every year. Most of the produce is sold through the auction market at Riverhead operated by the Long Island Cauliflower Association. Over 30,000 bushels of potatoes are raised annually, most of which are sold to the potato houses. Their acreage of strawberries produce bumper crops of berries every year, and as they are under irrigation, bring top prices at the auction block.

Three irrigation pumps are used on the farm with deep walls for two of them and the other takes water from a local stream which flows by the rear of the farm.  These three pumps enable them to irrigate the whole farm and be independent of the weather.

Four tractors, trucks, potato planters, diggers and combines, plant setters, sprayers and all the other equipment necessary to operate efficiently a modern farm require the investment of many thousands of dollars. The brothers are all mechanics and during the Winter months overhaul and paint their equipment in their large workshop.

When Spring planting times comes around, everything is in first class condition to start to work with, and breakdowns in the field do not hamper their work during the season.

The operation of the farm by the four brothers and their fathers show what family cooperation can do, coupled with hard work and modern methods that require a study of chemicals of various kinds for spraying. In fact, a modern farmer has to be a scientist these days in order to combat the various bugs that attack the crops. A thorough knowledge of fertilization requirements is also necessary, so a successful farmer has to be up to date in all branches.

At the time of this writing, nearly 100 wild geese could be seen feeding in one field across the road. They had dug through the snow that covered the ground and were feeding on rye cover crop that had been raised there.

Mr. Szuster said that about 150 deer could be seen at a time in one field in the eastern end of the farm which adjoins woodland that stretches for miles to the east. The deer come out of the woods and feed on cover crop of rye planted on the fields, when the ground is clear of snow. Now that have to subsist on twigs and branches of scruboaks and low hanging trees, and stray dogs have killed several of them, as they are not able to run so fast in the deep snow, and have hard work to escape them.

Mr. Szuster says it is difficult to make much at farming any more, with the high costs of machinery and all other farm expenses, but he says they always pay their bills, and Mr. Szuster has always been known through the years he has lived in the Middle Island area was a man of integrity whose word is as good as his bond.

A saw mill is operated on the farm and logs fromm their own forests are sawed into boards to build any buildings that are necessary for the farm operation, which also includes a large potato storage house. The brothers also recently built a potato picking combine that would have cost $8,000, at a small part of that for parts, etc. 

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