Close to farmers:
Farming Insiders: Paweł and Wiesław Strzemiecki, Poland
About Pawel and Wiesław
Paweł Strzemiecki inherited his family’s multi-generational farm from his father Wiesław. He was given the first hectares of land in 2001, when he began his studies at the University of Agriculture, but has been running the whole farm himself since 2006. Before retiring, his father Wiesław had worked in agriculture for more than 50 years, and he likewise ran the farm together with his father for a long time. It is now looking likely that Paweł’s two sons will also follow the same path.
Family-run farm where several generations work together.
Location: Farm in Rokitno in Lubuskie voivodeship
Crops cultivated: cereals, rapeseed and pulses
Special features: During his working life, Wiesław Strzemiecki was a coach for adolescent farmers. He taught agricultural trainees on his farm, showing them the modern farming methods at that time and how to run a farm.
This love of farming, of the farming tradition, goes back generations in our family.
Paweł, what values are important to you as a farmer?
I place great emphasis on values that I pursue in life in general, not just as a farmer, but as a human being generally. I strive to be perceived as a fair and reliable person, to be trustworthy and helpful to other people. This is the approach I apply to my land – in other words I want to be honest in a way with my land too, not to betray the ground we work on. I invest in the land, not only to harvest but also to give something of myself into it.
Wiesław: This love for farming, for the farming tradition, goes back generations in our family. My grandfather, like my father, was a farmer.
And I think it’s hugely important to feel this love. I inherited it, taking after my parents, and I have always done the work with joy, with passion. That’s what makes our multi-generational farm what it is, along with our tradition that goes back a long way.
Paweł, what challenges did you have to face when you took over the farm?
First of all, farming is quite a complex business, a complex profession where you have to gain expertise in many different areas. So it was a great challenge to acquire the knowledge to not only manage the farm, but also to run it in a way that maximizes its potential. Part of this involves introducing more and more modern technologies, including those related to precision agriculture. I had to learn to work on these things systematically. But I have managed to introduce more and more different technologies on my farm, and there are plenty innovations to come that I dream about today, but which might become reality in the future. I am certain that technologies will also help to ensure that the work farmers do is perceived more positively by outsiders too – when consumers see that we don’t just care about our own profits but also about the environment we all live in.
Wiesław, was it hard for you to hand over the farm?
I relinquished my duties as manager of the farm, as the person who makes decisions, bit by bit. In doing so, I taught my son what it means to be a farmer in charge of a business and I involved him more and more in decision-making. The handover was gradual, not sudden, which meant it wasn’t difficult to pass on my farm to my son, because I trust him and believe that he does now and will in future continue to do a good job. It is reassuring that he is happy in this role. I feel a sense of fulfillment. In the beginning it’s merely a dream to find a successor – and I also hope that my grandchildren will be interested in agriculture and perhaps become farmers themselves.
You are positive about the future. Paweł, do you think that the future of your two sons is also on this farm which you inherited from your father?
It is up to them what they want to do with their lives, and it’s hard to say what things will be like in 15 to 20 years when they are grown up, and making own decisions for life. Certainly it would be nice if they take over the farm, the land that they will inherit from me. And then expand it so that they also have the chance to run a farm that feeds them – I’d like to lay the groundwork for that and continue to modernize the farm. In any case, I hope that at least one of them takes over the farm, but I wouldn’t force them to do so. Regardless of whether they take over the land or not, I hope they are able to work in a way that makes them happy.
…although the way things look now, it seems there is some interest there even at a young age…
Yes, right now they are interested in what I do. They often join me at work and even cultivate their own little fields. My older son also helps my wife in her garden, where he has his own vegetables. He likes this kind of work too. My boys also try to copy me somehow, and it speaks for our abilities as parents that we can get them excited about what we are doing. After all, if they copy me then it means I’m teaching them something which they enjoy. I try to talk to them a lot about what I do, to answer questions.
Paving the way. For a fruitful tomorrow.
Farm life is often characterized by family cohesion and traditions that have grown over decades. Around the world, many generations live and work on farms under one roof, and at some point the question of farm succession comes up. Our new Farmer Portraits focus on this generational change that many farmers are facing. Young and old alike - we visited farmers on their farms to have them tell us about their stories, their challenges and their hopes.