The New York State Agricultural Society honors families dedicated to farming, stewardship, and community involvement in New York. Mason Farms was recently named a “Bicentennial Farm” in continuous family ownership and operation for over 200 years. Five Bicentennial Farm families were honored as part of the 180th Annual Agricultural Forum of the New York State Agricultural Society, held January 5th in Syracuse, NY. Each family receives a proclamation signed by NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo as well as an exterior farm sign; the award is sponsored by Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement.
Mason Farms takes great pride in being an original American farm family. The founder, Joseph Mason, who fought in the Revolutionary War, moved his family to Williamson in approximately 1810. His son, John, purchased the first farmland of approximately 30 acres in 1811. John was a carpenter and millwright plus a cabinetmaker. He built the Penfield Mills, the Cogswell Mill in Marion and the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pultneyvillle. They raised fruits and vegetables to sustain the large family and sold the extra. John perished in a shipwreck on Lake Ontario in November of 1831. Charles Mason was the 8th child of John and Eleanor Mason and the 3rd generation. With a colorful history spanning all Mason generations, the 6th and 7th generations, Paul and his son Doug, are co-owner/operators of the current farm. The farm is now 500+ acres with 400 in vegetables and 80+ of fruit (not including rented land). Masons still grow fruits and vegetables but have expanded greatly on the amounts and varieties grown.
Doug married Lorraine Lewis in 1992. Lorraine left her job as a commercial space planner in 1999 to help Doug and Paul on the farm. Doug and Lorraine have two children a son, Lewis, and a daughter, Victoria. In 2000, Mason Farms moved and expanded its farm stand. A new 3000 sq. ft. market was built to house the retail produce business with a greenhouse attached to showcase the plant/shrub business. Lorraine runs a successful farm market enterprise based solely on offering produce and greenhouse plants raised on the Mason Farm or grown locally.
Computerization of operations for managing and tracking data plus a print shop to label the numerous retail products has added much efficiency. The packing house, which is a field-to-store operation, is constantly upgrading the facilities to handle consumer packaging trends and food safety concerns. This year a grape tomato washing/sorting/packing line was added.
The farmland is prime and unique having muck on the south side and rich, glacier plains on the north providing different growing conditions for the +60 seasonal crops (and many varieties). As an Integrated Pest Management grower, a small weather station monitored by the NE Weather Assoc. and Cornell Cooperative Extension offers insight into the technology available to help with growing and spraying. They access the data on their website to help make spraying decisions.
The Masons received the NYS Agricultural Society’s Century Farm recognition in 1989. Awards and honors include a NYS IPM Program Excellence in IPM award as part of the team associated with Wegman’s Food Markets; Business of the Month presented by Williamson Chamber of Commerce; N.Y.S. Vegetable Growers Grand Champion winner for potatoes, Consumer Package Contest, Western Division; N.Y. Farms! “I Love My NY Farmer” award in horticulture; plus various ribbons throughout the years from the Empire State Potato Club and New York State Horticultural Society for “very good to excellent” in packaging and grade of our products.
The Masons firmly believe in Agri-education; giving the public a better understanding of agriculture.
The New York State Agricultural Society has been strengthening agriculture since 1832. The organization, which is nearly 800 members strong and growing, played an instrumental role in establishing agricultural organizations in New York including Cornell University’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the Department of Agriculture and Markets, the New York State Fair, and LEAD New York. The Society’s mission is to improve New York agriculture through education, leadership development and recognition programs. For more information or to join the NYS Agricultural Society visit www.nysagsociety.org or contact Executive Secretary, Penny Heritage, at firstname.lastname@example.org , (518) 384-1715.