Marté turning ag ventures into business trips
OLD BRIDGE, N.J. — John Marté knew in high school the farming life was for him. Now 22, has been working as a contract combine operator at large farms around the Midwest. Marté’s mother, Theresa, can be found weekends and most weekdays minding the farm stand at Hauser Hill Farms, run by her brother John Hauser.
“A friend of mine, Chris Both, worked here for my Uncle John about five years ago. I had seen him posting pictures on Facebook about going out west and working as a combine operator,” he said. Marté said he was intrigued and smitten with the idea.
“I got in contact with Chris, and he put me in touch with Tom Snell, who called me back. I was able to work out a plan to get out there and do this work,” Marté said.
Two years ago, he left New Jersey on May 8 and spent time working at large grain and corn harvesting operations until Nov. 8, 2018.
“They came up with a monthly salary for me and part of the housing and food is all included in that,” Marté said, noting he paid for his flight out to Kansas two years ago and stayed at a lodge in Ellenwood, Kan., for the first three weeks, much of which was spent on training. Around May 20 that year, he and his co-workers headed south to start harvesting.
“Until the crops were ready, we learned how to set up the machines and how to move them,” he said.
“I knew I wanted to travel and see a good part of the country, from Texas all the way up to North Dakota,” he said. In 2018, after training in Ellenwood, Kan., he and his co-workers began traveling and working in Texas for three weeks, then to southern and northern Oklahoma before heading to Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. Marté said he worked at the Hauser Hill Farms in junior high and high school.
With his mother, a longtime 4-H group leader, he went to the Middlesex County Fair every August. He began raising chickens and raising birds with a classmate. Theresa’s husband and John Marté’s father, Juan Marté’, works in merchandising for Coca-Cola.
John Marté said he attended a semester at Brookdale Community College in the fall of 2017 after he was graduated from Matawan High School. But he decided it wasn’t for him.
This year, Marté was scheduled to begin working first week in September, so he won’t be away from Hauser Hill Farms for nearly as long as he was in 2018.
“Hopefully, when I get there, they’ll still be working on wheat, so hopefully I’ll have some time harvesting wheat, maybe get to cut chick peas and garbanzo beans and I think in late September, the fall crops will be coming in and we’ll have high moisture corn in Nebraska and then we’ll go down to Kansas and do some corn and beans and milo there as well,” Marté said of the anticipated itinerary for he and his fellow freelance combine operators.
The plan is for Marté to be back home in New Jersey by Thanksgiving.
The combines, made by John Deere, have air-conditioned and heated cabs, touch screen computer monitors and all kinds of other sophisticated equipment.
“You have to adjust the cut at all times and that was one of the hardest things to learn,” he said, “with soybeans, they’ll get right down to the ground automatically, but for wheat harvesting, you have to learn to adjust it yourself and follow the contours of the ground.”
What appeals to Marté about being a farmer?
“I love the diversity of it. Every day is not the same. You’re always looking for ways to improve and I like bettering myself and being able to look back. With farming it’s easy to see where you made progress and where you made your mistakes,” he said.
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