Poland Shows off its Diversity in Farm Businesses

Today was the second farm tour day and I took part in the Diversity of Farm Businesses field trip.

Strawberry Farm – Grzegorz Mitura

strawberry jonesyGrzegorz’s farm is located in the north-western part of the voivodeship which is constituted by 83% arable land of which 1/3 is strawberry production. His farm also produces corn and wheat.

The farm has grown from 17ha to 100ha since 1996 and a former pig barn has been converted into accommodation for 100 seasonal workers – mostly coming from Ukraine, and making 15 cents/kg harvest picked during harvest. In 2-3 days, seasonal workers can earn the equivalent of a month’s wages in Ukraine.

An interesting tidbit – Grzegorz ensures he provides his seasonal workers with food rather than have them buy their own, because they will purchase the cheapest food in order to retain the maximum wages. However, this results in poor health and therefore, poor performance.

The variety of strawberry being used has been carefully selected as one that does not recognize light, so it keeps producing fruit instead of going dormant when deprived of sun. For Polish farmers, the cost of production is greatly increased by the parceling of land. Grzegorz’s largest plot is 35ha and a lot of time is spent moving between fields. Land prices are approximately $250 EU per acre.

In Poland, there is state-owned and private owned land. Farmer-owned land is much more profitable than state-owned and therefore the state are trying to sell the state-owned land. However, according to Grzegorz, many private firms are buying the land as investments rather being purchased by farmers to work the land.

Machinery costs as approximately $700k EU and the farm supports 3 families – Grzegorz, his parents and his sibling.

Cultivation profitability is:
Total direct costs: 25,038
PLN/1kg strawberry: .71
Gross margin: 44,963

The main challenge? Access to cheap labour force.

It was encouraging to see such a young, vibrant farmer. Very switched on.

Green Factory – Vegetable Processing

fit and easy saladStarted in 2006, Green Factory is a family business that focuses on the production of ready-to-eat salads.

Green Factory employs 211 individuals and cultivates vegetables on 466ha of land and is planning to obtain another 300ha of land in the coming year. Out of the Polish growing season, Green Factory imports product from Spain, France, Italy and Greece to offer fresh vegetables year-round.

Green Factory is one of two suppliers of salad to McDonalds in Poland.

lettuce field

Lettuce field

lettuce harvester

Lettuce harvestor

lettuce workers

Seasonal workers cut, bag and pack lettuce in the field

Mintex – Mint Farm

mintexThe farm was taken over by the parents of the current owners in 1980. The Mikolajcyzk family were the first in the area to start producing mint in this district and are currently the largest producer in Ireland, moving from 8ha to 120ha currently. Mint accounts for 90% of the farm’s revenue, and the farm have just begun strawberry and Melissa (lemon balm) production to extend the opportunities for seasonal workers, which are difficult to obtain for short-season harvesting.

Peppermint Cultivation Profitability:

Total direct costs: 8450
Cost per 1kg: 2.8
Gross margin: 786,000

The vast majority of production is exported to Germany and the final product is dried leaves and not oil as there is no demand/market for oil. Since pesticide suitability for herbs is limited, weeding is done by hand by 30 seasonal workers.

The Mikolajcyzk’s are very conscious of the market and consumer demand, and produce just for that .

Kowalski Kzysztof – Flaxseed Oil, Canola Oil, Pig Production
The family farm produces traditional cold-pressed linseed (flax) and rapeseed (canola) oil s well as breeding Zlotnicka White pigs with the University of Life Science. All product is sold directly from the farm. The waste product from oil production (cake) is fed to the pigs who reside in group pens with a hay mixture bedding.

Started in 1984, currently activities are carried out on 82ha.

flax crushing

Enlargement opportunities are limited by costs of 50-60k PLN/ha.

1 ton of flax = 250 lites of oil

1 ton of canola oilsed = 300 litres of oil

 

 

 

DSC00774Zlotnicka Pigs
– 40 sows produce 14 piglets annually
– Fattening period: 8 months
– 50-55% meat
– Meat does not shrink under culinary conditions
– Good fragrance and flavor

Plans for the future?
– Agritourism
– On-farm meat processing
– Wild rose production

Unbelievably, the pigs did not produce a smell at all and we all came away smelling of roses. Incredible.

Kzysztof treated us to a choir, dancers and food. We had a wonderful time. We also had the pleasure of celebrating Kzysztof’s names day which is similar to a birthday but carries more importance.

choir

 

polish dancing flax

Last day of the Congress tomorrow, with a great line up!

Saturday we begin our post-congress tour filled with farm visits and historic/cultural sites of Poland, galore!

-Heather

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