Delaware’s Green Industry was presented by Tracy Wooten and Valann Gudischak. We learned what and who is part of the green industry, with that being producers, retailers, landscapers, land managers, golf courses, and suppliers of equipment. Probably one o the most important lessons learned was the difference between floriculture crops and nursery crops. Floriculture crops being those bedding/garden plants, cut cultivated greens, flowers, potted flowering plants, foliage plants, and propagative floriculture material. Nursery crops being those of broadleaf and coniferous evergreens, deciduous shade trees and flowering trees, deciduous shrubs and other ornamentals, fruit and nut plants for home use, cut and to-be-cut Christmas trees, and propagation material or lining out stock. Grower sales of nursery crops accruing to approximately $8 billion annually and floriculture crops at approximately $4.8 billion. Learning about this part of agriculture was interesting as you do not hear about it often and the many job and career opportunities lie within the green industry.
One of the first guest lectures of our Delaware Agriculture class was when Secretary Kee came to class and explained the great importance and the vast responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture. Secretary Kee also explained possible career pathways that have to do with the many responsibilities of the department. Some of the significant roles the Department of Agriculture consists of the regulation of the horse racing industry, the maintaining of state parks and lands, and the responsibility of controlling invasive non-native species and diseases. Another important responsibility of the Department of Agriculture is the system of weights and measures. The system of weights and measures program of the department is responsible for gauging and testing the accuracy of gas station pumps. Every gas station in the state of Delaware must be certified by the system of weights and measures of the Department of Agriculture to ensure its accuracy. As Secretary Kee explained, there are many responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture and it his job to make sure that all programs and sub departments are running smoothly. Secretary Kee showed me a variety of successful jobs and careers all within the agriculture industry during his visit and I very much enjoyed his lecture.
The most interesting guest lecture from our Delaware Agriculture class was Mr. Mark Davis’s. Mark visited our class on 11/1/16 and gave us and in-depth history of the horse racing industry as well as its prevalence today in the modern agriculture community. We learned that horse racing is one of the oldest sports in the world and that, today, the horse industry has a direct economic effect of about 39 billion dollars annually in the U.S. Also, we learned that there are two types of horses used in the horse racing industry as well as two types of racing. The first one is called thoroughbred, and that is the kind of horse that is raced with a rider on its back, called a jockey. The other kind of horse is Standardbred and these are horses used for harness racing. The biggest harness racing track in Delaware is located in Harrington at the state fair grounds. Mark Davis also explained to us the many working parts of the horse racing industry which is all regulated by the Department of Agriculture. Some of these parts include the horses, horse owners, jockeys, trainers, vets, suppliers, casinos/tracks, government representatives, commissions regulators, horse racing associations, and of course the betting public. Mark Davis’s lecture opened my eyes to huge industry of horse racing which I had previously known little about. I appreciate the time he took to inform us about this growing industry.
When people think about Agriculture, one of the first ideas that I think pop into people’s minds is what would be properly defined as the Green Industry, greenhouses, florists, gardens and plant nursery’s. Ms. Tracy Wootten and Ms. Valann Budischak are two ladies very involved in the Green Industry in Delaware. Ms. Wootten is a self defined farm kid that grew up to be a farm adult and Ms. Budischak is a lady who has had, and who currently wears many hats, working with the Delaware Nursery Association, DelDot and the Botanic Gardens.
These two ladies gave us a class length tour of Delaware’s Green Industry! Ranging from who is involved, the different aspects, different types of growing, sales, suppliers and more. It was really interesting to hear how much there is to the green industry, because people understand it’s huge but just how much it actually encompasses isn’t really thought about. For example jobs in the Green Industry aren’t just working directly with plants, but also with accounting, transport, legal, inventory work etc. I really liked hearing about the different programs in Delaware like DNLA and the Livable Lawns.
Toward the start of the semester Secretary of Ag Ed Kee visited our class to talk about Delaware agriculture from where it started to what it has become. Secretary Kee’s father worked more on the business end of the agriculture world, but he had a chance to work on a farm in Lewes Delaware in his teen years and took the opportunity. Later in his life Secretary Kee worked three years as a farm manager and is now currently in his eighth year of serving as Delaware’s Secretary of Ag. He said his job covers a lot but some main parts are advocating for Ag and working with teams to manage the department. Covering the regulations of a number of functions including food safety, pesticide use, weights and measures and the list goes on for him.
During his presentation Mr. Kee spoke with our class about how 20% of Delaware farmland has been permanently preserved by the AgLand Preservation Program which is so cool!! He also discussed Delaware’s history of Agriculture like how tomato’s used to a huge crop in the state, and all of the advances in technology that’s occurred over the years in Delaware to enhance farming. Secretary Kee also was real with the class about challenges the industry is facing like profitability and regulations as well as others and how some of these issues will be passed on to the next generation, which happens to includes us!! It was really cool to see where Ag had been, to where it is now, and then kind of be pushed to realize that our class is going to see and even have a hand in where agriculture goes and what it develops into!
The trip to Georgie’s organic chicken farm was one of my favorite field trips from this class. I had never been to a poultry farm before and being on her farm and seeing her operation exposed me to some of the experiences of an American family farmer. Although Georgie owns a small family farm, there are still a lot challenges to overcome to be a profitable business. Some of the biggest challenges to running a poultry farm are the manual labor needed to run the day to day operations as well as the overhead cost of electricity to run the chicken houses. Also, another big cost to running a farm is keeping up with the regulations and technology requirements for both mountaire and the state of Delaware. To help with daily regulations of the chicken houses, Georgie has a high tech main control center that controls the temperature, humidity, ventilation, and the food and water supply for all three of her houses. There are, as well, requirements to become an organic chicken farmer. Before getting your organic business license your farm soils must be tested rigorously for three years straight to ensure that there are no harmful chemicals in the ground. Another requirement to becoming an organic farm is the installation of windows in your chicken houses as well as doors for the chickens to be able to go outside as they please, making them free range chickens. Overall, I really enjoyed learning about the organic poultry industry on Georgie’s farm and am very grateful of her hospitality and kindness.
Mark Davis is currently Delaware’s Executive Director of the Harness Racing Commission. However, he didn’t start out his career here, but studied marine biology for a while before graduating with a degree in environmental science. He worked for a time as an environmental consultant and got involved with the Department of Ag in Delaware as a land use planner. He traded hats a few more times before landing his current job with the Harness Racing Commission.
Mr. Davis discussed with the class the many different aspects of the racing industry, which I myself knew very little about. He discussed the history, components, regulations, as well as the impact of the industry-which monetarily adds up to around $39 billion to the U.S. each year. He explained that the Delaware state vet isn’t typically involved with the racing industry unless there is a disease issue, instead there are vets at the track and the paddock. The vets at the track are there to watch the races and monitor the horses for lameness, to see that the whipping regulations are upheld and to do welt checks. At the paddock the vets have a slightly different purpose, that is to do lots of test to make sure the horses are in tip-top shape, like blood tests, heart rate checks and to check on joints. The upcoming challenges Mr. Davis sees for the industry is the government resting on the casinos too much without turn around to help the industry as well as the shrinking field.
Georgia Cartanza is the force behind a four house organic poultry farm in Delaware and upon meeting her I realized she is one of those special people who is just pure sunshine. Ms. Cartanza didn’t jump out of college and into her current 156,000 bird operation, but started as a flock supervisor for Purdue, the job was essentially to help poultry growers with managing and improving the day to day in their houses. After that she jumped around to a number of different positions before deciding to make the switch to having her own houses and being her own boss with the bonus of a more flexible family friendly work schedule.
After putting on tyvek suits and boot covers our class left the bus and Ms. Cartanza explained about her manure shed, and different external parts of the operation before showing us inside the chicken houses. Right before going into the house we saw the computer system that is a technologically amazing part of the operation, controlling the house regulations right from Ms. Cartanza’s phone, which will also alert her if any of the stats are way off, for example if the temperature in one of the houses spikes. One thing that really astonished me inside of the house was that the smell wasn’t bad, I was always told that chickens are dirty and smell awful…and it was pretty much the opposite. The air movement inside of the chicken house is so impressive that the smell doesn’t bother you, and over all it was quite clean and much quieter than I had ever expected! #AgMythBusted
Ms. Cartanza talked about the food and water system, the air flow, the outside access, as well as the toys the chickens had, like bully boxes and ramps. One silly comment that really stuck with me was her joking apology about the state of her chickens, how the previous classes who visited got to see cute chicks and we drew the short stick and visited during molting!
Ms. Cartanza chatted with our class about a number of different things throughout our visit. For example the challenges she is faced within the poultry industry, how energy and electricity are a big issue, how regulations can really hinder farm growth, as well as the impact public views have. She also discussed with us what she thought was important about entering into the job world, and one of her biggest points was accountability, the importance to be mature and responsible for your own person and actions. She also emphasized how far a positive attitude and the way you handle mistakes can go.
On Saturday, Nov. 16, 2014 students from Georgetown traveled to Newark and joined their Newark PLSC167 classmates for an in-depth tour of the UD Research Farm and Webb Farm.
Scott Hopkins, farm manager provided an overview of the farm’s research topics and hands-on teaching labs.