T-D-J Farm

Salem, NY

After 40 years of waking up at 3:15 a.m., “I don’t even set an alarm,” says Tom Jilek. He’s usually in bed by 8, he says, except on nights when, as a member of the local school board, he’s at a particularly long meeting, which occasionally run until 1 a.m. It’s all part of being a contributing member of the community where his maternal ancestors have farmed since before the American Revolution. Although his parents did not have careers in agriculture, Tom has known since he was 10 that farming was his calling, as it was for many generations on his mother’s side. He learned from his mother’s brothers. Uncle Warren Skellie, a former director of Agri-Mark, “He taught me to be a cow man,” says Tom. Another uncle, Richard Skellie, with whom he farmed in partnership for 17 years, “taught me to be a crop person,” Tom adds.

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