Joe Czajkowski Farm

Colorful turnips from Czajkowski Farm. 

Joe Czajkowski’s farm operates on over 400 acres of land in Hadley, MA and is so close to campus that you can see the UMass Graduate Research Center from his fields. In comparison to conventional produce, which uses hundreds of gallons of fuel to travel from California to Massachusetts, vegetables from Joe Czajkowski’s farm use less than a quart of gas to get to campus. Not only is this much more environmentally sound, but as Joe points out, local food is simply “fresher and better.” 

The third-generation farm, established in 1914 by Joe’s grandparents, started out cultivating tobacco, potatoes, and cucumbers. Today, Joe Czajkowski has thirty employees and grows many different kinds of vegetables, including corn, winter squash, summer squash, sweet potatoes, and much more. He even converted 160 acres of his land to meet organic certification requirements. 
 Joe is always coming up with new and creative ways to market his produce – whether it be in the form of butternut fries or beet noodles. He works to encourage the UMass Dining team to take advantage of underutilized vegetables such as Brussels sprout tops or broccoli leaves.  
In addition to all of the vegetables he grows, Joe’s operation supplies UMass Dining with fresh fruit, chickens, and value added products such as jams and coleslaw. UMass Dining bought 1000 chickens from Joe last year, and over the course of this current academic year we plan to double that amount. His products reach far beyond the Dining Commons, and can be found all over campus in various retail locations.    
Picture Joe Czajkowski in his carrot fields with UMass Amherst buildings visible in the distance. 
Picture Cut and peeled veggies prepped for a delivery to UMass. Picture Joe C.’s cut potatoes to make UMass Dining’s local french fries. 

Joe also has a close relationship with many farmers in the Valley, and acts as a central point or aggregate for many of them. Farmers who work with Joe will drop their products off at his farm, which he then delivers to UMass and other customers. Joe’s ability to fulfill the role of both farmer and aggregator allows UMass the ability to support a wide network of local producers in an efficient, cost-effective manner. Another amazing perk of Joe’s close ties with the local farming community, is that whenever we at UMass are in need of a specific local item, we know who to go to – no matter what it is, we can count on Joe to know if that item is produced locally, and if so, by whom. 

Joe C. and one of his employees discussing their produce with UMass’ Chef Tony and Chef Bob. 

Through this ongoing and ever-growing partnership, UMass Dining has a trusted source of local products, and Joe Czajkowski has a trusted buyer with a reliable customer base, as there will always be hungry students! Together with other local institutions and producers, UMass Dining and Joe Czajkowski have the amazing opportunity to enact real and lasting change in the Pioneer Valley. 

“I love to see things grow. It’s one of the things I like best.” – Joe Czajkowski   
Thanks so much, Joe, for working so hard with UMass Dining to make our campus a more sustainable place!  
Photo credits to Keith Toffling