Matt Dersham loved visiting his grandfather’s farm when he was a boy. His great-grandparents started farming here in 1886, and his grandfather continued working the farm. Matt’s parents didn’t work the farm, but rented out the land to area farmers. Matt worked on a dairy farm when he was in high school. After high school, he went to diesel school to learn a trade. He subsequently worked at a truck stop, a lumberyard and on his in-laws’ farm. He met his wife, Toni, online. “I was working so hard, I never had the chance to go to places where I could meet girls. We started dating and soon realized we wanted to be together. She wasn’t a country girl when we met, but she sure has become one now,” he says with a boyish grin.
They married and now have three children. Throughout it all, Matt wanted to move back to this farm. “If I wanted to keep the farm in the family, I had to find a way to keep it going. I also had to buy out the other family members.” Matt talked with Heritage Poultry Management about producing eggs. When Heritage offered Matt an opening with Pete and Gerry’s, he scraped together enough to finance one barn with his parents’ help. He built his first 20,000-hen poultry house in 2012 and a second in 2013. He now has 40,000 laying hens. Matt cares for the hens and maintains the buildings and equipment. Toni packs the eggs and helps clean the barns between flocks. The girls help pack eggs and even walk the barn. “I like the flexibility, and I like spending time with my family. I like knowing I’m helping to keep the world going around,” Matt states with pride.
Matt also likes tractor pulls. He built a 1200-horsepower International pulling tractor. “It’s my addiction,” he confesses. “I’m still working the bugs out, but it has pulled 26,000 pounds.” “We like swimming and boating too,” Toni adds. ”The Susquehanna River is only about a half hour away, so we can go down there for 2 or 3 hours after work. In addition to running the farm, Matt does diesel and equipment repair. “Our primary income is from eggs, but I help my neighbor with his combine. The farmers in this area all help each other. Their feelings are actually hurt if they find out you needed help and didn’t ask them.”
Built a 1200-horsepower International pulling tractor
Swimming and boating
We take pride in our small family farms. We offer farm tours to let our customers get a first-hand experince of our small family farms.