NEWARK, Delaware – A fifteen-minute walk from University of Delaware’s main campus transports students from the crowded sidewalks overflowing with construction to an oasis of peace, quietude, and UDairy ice cream on the university’s 350-acre outdoor classroom—the farm. This agricultural and environmental sanctuary just across the bridge on South College Avenue delivers an initially shocking aroma. On a working farm, there are large volumes of animals producing—as they do—large volumes of manure. However, this manure is good for more than just keeping the crowds at bay. With the right equipment and space, it becomes the fertilizer that keeps the farm functioning.
“It’s all part of the cycle,” explains Webb Farm manager Larry Armstrong. “What they make in the farm goes in the field [where] they graze.” Fifty Dorset sheep, thirty Angus beef cattle, and six teaching horses live on Webb Farm, all of which are managed by Mr. Armstrong. However, in his position, he serves as the caretaker for more than just the animals themselves as he also maintains the health of the land they rely on.
As someone who has been in agriculture his whole life, Mr. Armstrong sees value in products that others would initially dismiss as waste and waste alone. Whether it’s the piles of leaves that have fallen on the farm, the excess straw spilling out of horse stalls, or the physical waste piling up as the livestock convert food into energy—all of it gets raked, swept, and scraped up into skinny piles called windrows for composting.