From fisherman to farmer
Peter Lizza grew up on Long Island, New York. A city kid most of his life, Lizza grew up fishing and clamming off the coast learning the value of hard work and long hours.
However, Lizza had a bigger dream than fishing and the city – a cattle and row crop farm of his own.
Around his early teens, Lizza’s parents bought a small acreage in upstate New York that was meant as a weekend getaway. Over the years, the family turned it into Lizza’s Valley View Farms, a pick your own pumpkins and fall festivities farm.
Lizza, grew to love the area, knowing somebody he wanted to fully farm. Fast forward to 2020, the 24-year-old has added 500 acres of hay and corn, 100 cow/calf pairs, as well as continuing the pick your own pumpkins.
Funding his dream through fishing
Lizza continued his fishing business allowing him to save money to attend Iowa State University to study agricultural studies.
As Lizza says, “I literally started with nothing” when he first started renting land and adding cattle to the farm – including experience and knowledge.
“I went to a place to meet people and make friends with those who were doing exactly what I wanted to,” said Peter Lizza. “I knew I wanted to farm, and I needed to go learn from people who knew how to do it.”
Lizza continued his fishing business throughout the off months of college, building capital to invest into his farm.
“I was taking one hand to feed the other,” said Lizza. “I was digging clams to become a farmer. My parents aren’t farmers, so I was using my fishing career to further my farming career.”
As a first-generation farmer, Lizza is building his farm from the ground up, which he says has been an immense learning curve.
“I think multi-generational farmers might take the simple things, like a shop, for granted,” said Lizza. “From starting with nothing, you have to do everything little thing. I didn’t buy a farm that had everything on it and was ready to go. I literally had no equipment, no livestock, nothing.”
His vision is set on 2021
After graduating college, Lizza returned to the family farm renting more land and eventually bought a place of his own. Farming full-time isn’t the only thing that keeps him busy.
“During the week I work for my dad’s excavation business,” said Lizza. “On the weekends, every Friday night, I drive the three hours to the farm and work on the weekends. During the week I’m lucky to have a farm-hand to feed and care for the animals.”
Lizza still enjoys fishing and clamming when he can, but his desire and future lies in his farm.
“I’m currently taking all my money from another job and pouring it into the farm,” said Lizza. “And I’ve thought ‘should I be saving it, or should I put it towards what I really want to do? I know it will all be worth it.”
Lizza is looking forward to making the transition into farming full-time in 2021.
“I’ve really found my passion in the cattle,” said Lizza. "I want to farm full-time. I don’t want to have two occupations. I’m looking forward to the day I can just wake up and go out and farm all day.”
Currently, Lizza is in the process of building a 150-head feedlot. His next big goal - farming 1,000 acres.