As it marks its 100th year, one of New England’s largest potato farms is launching a new Web site and corporate logo and is starting a foundation to help preserve agriculture in western Massachusetts.

Szawlowski Potato Farms observes 100th anniversary

Szawlowski Potato Farms is celebrating its 100th birthday.

Planning to celebrate its centennial throughout the year, Szawlowski Potato Farms Inc. officially marks its first 100 years with a July 10 celebration that features a tractor parade down Main Street of Hatfield, Mass., food, music, potato sack races, pony rides, a petting zoo and other children’s activities.

The fifth-generation family-run grower-shipper expects more than 2,000 people to participate in the festivities, said Frank Szawlowski, president of the Hatfield-based family run operation

The late John R. “J.R.” Szawlowski, a Polish immigrant who became locally known as the potato king, founded the growing operation in 1910 on the banks of the Connecticut River in nearby North Hampton Meadows, Mass., in the western Massachusetts Connecticut River Valley growing region.

The children of the late Chester Szawlowski, J.R. Szawlowski’s son, Frank Szawlowski, John Szawlowski, Chet Szawlowski Jr., and Stanley Szawlowski, work in the farming and sales end of the business while daughter Marion Szawlowski Zgrodnik oversees accounts payables in the operation that was forced to relocate after a 1972 imminent domain action turned the property into an industrial park.

The difficult move, however, helped as it spurred the operation to expand acreage from 300 acres in the late 1940s to today’s 2,500 acres, said Diane Szawlowski Mullins, Frank Szawlowski’s daughter and the company’s public relations and marketing manager who along with a dozen other grandchildren and great-grandchildren of J.R. Szawlowski work the operation.

Frank Szawlowski remembers his grandfather J.R. Szawlowski picking up him and his brothers from school, feeding them at an ice cream store and putting them to work on a tractor.

J.R. Szawlowski was one of the big suppliers to the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., Montvale, N.J., and Frank Szawlowski’s father later sent to sell potatoes to area terminal markets

Szawlowski Potato Farms observes 100th anniversary

Courtesy Szawlowski Potato Farms

The late John R. “J.R.” Szawlowski (left), a Polish immigrant who became locally known as the potato king, founded Szawlowski Potato Farms, which is marking its 100th year in July.

“It takes a lot of dedication and a lot of cooperation with the family,” Frank Szawlowski said. “This shows customers that you have to be pretty determined and experience the good and the bad in farming. The five of us have stuck together. It’s still a family thing.”

Szawlowski expected to launch a new Web site  July 10 and while it didn’t plan to ditch its longtime logo that features a child picking up a large potato out of a basket of potatoes, the company created another logo that would be more usable for corporate purposes, Diane Szawlowski Mullins said.

A YouTube video is planned to highlight the company’s history.

On June 30, Szawlowski publicized the creation of the Szawlowski Farms Agricultural Foundation to provide scholarships to individuals and organizations wanting to continue working in western Massachusetts agriculture.

The nonprofit organization plans to help groups such as the local 4-H organization which recently lost a barn to a fire and fund initiatives helping small farmers that the state’s agriculture department doesn’t support, Diane Szawlowski Mullins said.

“We have been around for a long time,” she said. “We intend to be around for many more years to come. The four brothers really worked hard and worked so well together. They had a lot of guts and had the vision to grow the company, and made investments in farming technology, packing equipment and trucking.”

In its harvest of round whites, reds, russets and yukon golds, scheduled to begin July 21-22, Szawlowski plans to ship 1,500 truckloads of potatoes from Massachusetts and sell nearly $30 million in potatoes from its fields and from other U.S. growers throughout the year.

Volume builds in early August and fresh shipments run through November.