My grandfather, Stefano Dragone, apprenticed in Italy at a young age to learn the art of blacksmithing. He learned to shoe horses, make tools and practice metalworking.

When he was 18 he travelled to the United States from Bari, which is in the Puglia region of Italy. He worked for a few years and then returned to Italy to marry. He was introduced to a young lady from a neighboring town called Alberobello by a matchmaker. Alberobello is known for trulli, which are cone roofed stone huts.

The young lady’s name was Maria Calderella. Maria and Stefano were soon married and returned to America. Like many Southern Italians, they moved to Rochester, NY. Stefano and Mary, as she came to be known, were blessed with eight children, Vito, Mario, Charles, Niblia, Mary, Donato, Annetta and Francis. During World War II all five boys served their country. Two of them returned with Purple Hearts.

Stefano started his career at the Rochester Carting Company and worked shoeing horses for twenty years until mechanical trucks replaced the wagons. He then worked for himself, travelling to farms and barns with a lit forge and anvil on a wagon behind his horse. The story goes that the horse would know to stop at every bar on the way to the farms and back.

His clients included the Genesee Brewing Company and their twelve horse team. Stefano became good friends with the brewery owner on his visits to the horse farm.

When farrier work became even harder to find, Stefano took a municipal job making tools, fences and metal railings for the city.

Stefano made his own wine and grape crushing was an annual family event. He had a wine cellar in his basement with several old oak barrels up until the end of his life. My memories of him almost always included a juice glass of wine in front of him.

Stefano passed away in 1970. Cory never met him, but I can’t help but compare these two men that learned their craft at a young age. They were born 90 years apart but share a true artisan tradition.

— Steve Dragone Owner

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Our goal with Farm Talk Radio is to tell a story across ​Canada, weaving a mosaic of landscapes that focus on the people, places, and things that inspire change — To give airtime to the hardworking men and women who are feeding the bodies, hearts, and minds of our great country. Farming can at times be a lonely and isolating profession. It is one filled with numerous hardships. The long hours, physically demanding work, and constant struggle to work in harmony with Mother Nature take their toll. Furthermore, the ever-changing extremes of climate change will only add to these pressures. Not to mention, the financial risk of being an entrepreneur and running a business to feed and support yourself and your family. Yet this is a field of work that continues to attract some of the most incredible and inspiring change makers that I have been fortunate enough to meet. Spend a weekend at your local farmers market and you’ll know what I am talking about. Because of this, it will be an honour to sit down and listen to them and help them tell their story. Farm Talk Radio explores the challenges these agents of change are going through and the gifts that this journey has brought them. And we’d like to share all of this with you.