The Long Island Bureau is honoring Mark Zaweski — a fourth generation farmer and owner of MKZ Farms in Jamesport — with its Amherst Davis Memorial Farmer Citizen of the Year Award for 2014.
The award is presented annually to a bureau member who gives back not only to the agricultural community, but also to the community in which they live and farm.
Mr. Zaweski is a 21-year veteran of the Jamesport Fire Department, a member of the Suffolk County farmland preservation committee and the chair of the Riverhead Town farmland preservation committee, said Joe Gergela, the farm bureau’s executive director.
He also helps scientists at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, allowing them to use his farm for research to test new methods of fertilizer and pesticide use.
Q: Why have you felt the need to help the agriculture market beyond your own farm?
A: It’s just the ideas of keeping the agricultural community on Long Island alive and flourishing. As you can see were being inundated by new houses. Growing up as a kid there were a lot of farms and they are slowly diminishing. So we need to work to keep this community that is here alive and vibrant.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of being on the county and Riverhead farmland preservation committees?
A: Helping to get [farms] preserved, because now they are preserved and can never be developed. Now the funding is tight within the town, but on the county level we are still purchasing farms and the most rewarding part of all of it is knowing that they will be saved as agricultural land.
Q: How important is it for you to stay a part of your local community?
A: I have always felt that being involved in your local community is big. I have lived in Jamesport for 55 years, I didn’t go off to college right out of high school — I stayed right on the farm. This has been my hometown forever. Being in the fire department and being able to help others; that’s just the way it should be. I feel a lot more young people should be involved in their local communities. Being able to help your neighbors, it’s just something I have always enjoyed.
Q: How does it feel to be recognized by the LIFB?
A: It’s quiet an honor to receive this and to be recognized for things I have done to help and anything I may have accomplished, to help sustain Long Island agriculture. I really consider it quite an honor to now be a part of this select group of people. It feels pretty good.