Category Archives: Fruits

Ed Kee – Iowa & California Agriculture

Ed Kee guest lectured in class on agriculture in Iowa and California. It was really cool to learn about how different states can be so productive in agriculture, but have many different variables to deal with then what we have here. It was particularly surprising to see how much of a problem water is in California. You can tell that their agriculture system is centered around these aqueducts, because if they aren’t then producing in California is very hard. I had no idea that California is responsible for growing nearly all the tomatoes used for processing. California has a very diverse agriculture environment. It was also was interesting to learn how fertile Iowa’s soil is, and how it gives them a natural advantage in producing. I learned the Iowa only gets 24-36 inches of rain a year, but due to the  water holding capacity of the soil this amount of rain is not really an issue for farmers. With these, and many other natural advantages, I learned how productive Iowa is in agriculture. Ed mentioned that Iowa is responsible for 13% of the US corn acreage as well as 12% of the US soybean acreage. Overall, I learned a lot about California and Iowa’s agriculture industry. It was really interesting to see how much it differs from what we deal with on the West Coast.

Fifer Orchards

Unfortunately I was not able to make the field trip, however I have lived in Camden Wyoming Delaware my whole life and I have toured the farm before. Fifer Orchards is a family farm, which just started to be 300 acres of land in 1919 by Charles Frederick Fifer, and then later grew to be what is now 2,500 acres of land for the fourth generation. Looking at this farm one can acknowledge how well the family has kept the legacy going with high quality produce that’s accessible and affordable.  Fifer’s is especially known for their apples and peaches. Each year their peach ice cream is the highlight of the annual Peach Festival.  I remember touring the farm a while back and being able to pick an apple right off the tree; it was as big as a softball. I remember biting it and hearing the soft but crisp bite. I remember learning all about Fifer’s crops and Delaware’s rich soil which is good for draining. They are on the leading edge of farming with no G.M.O.’s and teaming up with C.S.A. (Community Supported Agriculture) exchanging high quality produce locally. Being able to reach anyone in the United States within eight hours, the farm is efficient and accessible and is the sweet spot of farming and raising a company.

This is the original store that has been there since the farm started. I definitely recommend the apple cider slushies!

Trip to Fifers

Last Saturday, I took a trip to Fifers Orchard. I was thoroughly impressed at the size of their production. I had been previously under the impression that Fifers was a small little produce stand with only a couple acres of land. I very much enjoyed seeing the different types of crops they grew and I was very surprised to learn that their were many different types of one specific crop, such as orange, green, and purple cauliflower. Being able to look at the type of distribution center, I was so excited to see how things worked within the company. Speaking to the family members was also extremely interesting because I never realized how important it was that each person had their own specific job and made sure that their job was completed with great competence. I was also interested in the idea that you were able to buy not only fruits and vegetables, but other types of homemade products such as jams, pies, and seasonings. Seeing this type of production system was extremely important to my understanding about how family farms are run and to see them work cohesively and produce the best products for their consumers.

Fifer Orchards

“To grow and sell high quality produce, while preserving the environment, serving the community and maintaining family values.”

In its fourth generation, Fifer Orchards located in Camden-Wyoming, DE exemplifies every aspect of their mission statement. Despite it being the first week of their annual Fall Fest, Bobby Fifer and his brother Curt Fifer took the time to give my class and I an in depth tour of the their farm. Starting out with a trip out to the fields, we got a little taste of what Bobby Fifer has been doing for 25 years. He talked to us about their harvesting practices, improved technology and challenges him and his family constantly face.

With the consumer trend these days leaning towards local grown produce and environmentally safe practices, I was really interested in what role they play in the community. The Community Supported Agriculture club is something that the Fifer family started to get their produce out to consumers all over Delaware who may not be able to make it to their family farm in Dover, or secondary location in Dewey Beach. Each week they deliver handpicked produce to 10 different locations across Delaware and into Maryland. This is so awesome!! Not only are they getting their product out there and bringing in revenue but it is also giving families the opportunity to support local farmers and eat healthy, a win-win for both parties.

Soybean fields at Fifer Orchards.

Fifer Orchards preserves the environment with modern harvesting techniques, serves the community with various events and programs, and sells high quality produce, to which I can personally attest to after trying their peach pie! There is no other way I would have wanted to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Fifer Orchards: A Vast Operation

Saturday, 9/23 our class visited the Fifer Orchard around Dover, DE. On the way there, I was wondering why we did not just go around the corner to see Milburn Orchards; they have apples and awesome apple cider too! It all made sense when we got there though.

Fifer Orchards was huge, and we were given a pamphlet listing all the fruits and vegetables they grew. I never imagined it would be that much. When taken to some vegetable fields, I was surprised that they not only grew traditional cauliflower, but they grew cheddar cauliflower, explained that it had beta-carotene in it, and purple cauliflower because the consumers asked for it!

It was great applying other classes to the field trip as well. Pictured here is drip irrigation in strawberries, which I learned the benefits about in PLSC204!

Of course we ended the trip with a trip to the market; the apple cider slushies were to die for!

It Runs in the Family

When hearing the term, “family farm,” I never imagine anything to the scale or national success that I witnessed at Fifer’s Orchards. Fifer’s Orchards is a fourth generation family farm, starting in the 1900s with 200-300 acres. Since then, the Fifer family has expanded  and developed their orchards into just under 3000 acres of land tilled.

Being from a city in Connecticut, my knowledge of crops basically went as far as the grocery store before coming to the University of Delaware. The opportunity to tour a farm of such magnitude helped to further my knowledge, and I was truly amazed with each thing I learned. Strawberries are one of the main crops grown on Fifer’s land, and they are planted in raised beds. This is to keep the beds up above water that may naturally collect in the field, and the plastic covering surrounding the beds allows better heat conservation and transfer when it is appropriate. Even more interesting is that each bed has a drip tube irrigation system running within it, which allows the plants to receive the water that they need without subjecting the body of the plant to the diseases and pests that can come along with traditional crop watering.   Once these strawberries are mature, they are handpicked, and sent up and down the East Coast.

One of the best things about Fifer’s Orchards is that while they are a million dollar business, they still keep their local community in mind. In fact, on the weekend we visited, Fifer’s was actually having the first weekend of its annual six week Fall Festival. In addition the this festival, Fifer’s Orchards reaches out to and serves the community through the Community Supported Agriculture program they run twice a year. This program allows families and individuals to sign up to receive a weekly box of Fifer’s produce and other locally grown or raised food products. There are pick up locations throughout Delmarva, and the program runs May-Labor Day and November-Christmas. The boxes come in large, small, or customized, and it is a great way to not only get your groceries, but also ensure you’re eating healthy while supporting local businesses!

Fifer Orchards farm

At September twenty-third, 2017, we went to the Fifer Orchards farm, which is located in Camden Wyoming, DE, one hour drive from the University of Delaware. It is a family farm and the fourth generation. What is more, It is the season of apples and pumpkins. We went to the apple picking area where tourist also can go to pick up apples by themselves.  The field, next to it, is a huge area of the strawberry field. In the past, I thought the way to water them is rotating sprinklers on pipes. What I saw in the field is drip irrigation. Pipes are put inside of the soil and the soil is covered by black plastic materials. Drip irrigation is a slow process to provide water and fertilizer to plant roots. Because it is on the inside of the soil, it does well on keeping the perfect moisture and keeping the plant surface dry which saves water resource and reduces disease and pest problems.

Since they plant the variety of vegetable and fruit in different time of the seasons, there must be a most profitable one, which is the sweet corn. When we think about farm markets, we may think there may be a competition between the weekly farmer markets located across the state and the Fifer Orchards farm, but the fact is the Fifer Orchards farm sell products to them. In the end, we arrived their market shopping area. All kinds of delicious apples and pretty pumpkins. I am really glad I got the chance to visit here with my professors and classmates.

Fifer Orchards Visit

Fifer Orchards is a local farm and country store located in Camden-Wyoming, DE.  Tilling over 2800 acres Fifers produces a diverse amount of crops along with their biggest profit sweet corn. This past summer I was fortunate enough to work at Fifer Orchards and after the field trip I gained even more respect for the farm and the things they do to benefit the community and the agriculture industry. Throughout the field trip we were taken to several fields and shown many different crops, one of the most interesting was kale which is hand harvested. We were then given a tour of the packing house and cooler and shown the behind the scenes that goes into getting Fifer Orchards produce out to the public. We were lucky enough to visit on the first day of the fall fest so it was a busy Saturday for the Fifer Orchards staff. The farm puts on many events for the community throughout the year such as the strawberry festival, customer appreciation day and the fall fest. Apple cider slushes couldn’t be handed out fast enough to the customers. After working at Fifers over the summer and the field trip I have really seen the hard work that goes into the family business and how hard the family strives to serve the community.

Fifer Orchards

Fifer Orchards is an amazing family owned 2800 acre farm. The farm is an amazing example of Delaware Agriculture. Fifer Orchards is a community based orchard that focuses it’s attention on involvement, education, and community supported agriculture (CSA). The farm grows produce such as sweet corn, cauliflower, kale, apples, strawberries, and tomatoes. They also have a wonderful market in which they sell pies, baked goods, and jams. We visited Fifer Orchards on their first Fall Fest day of 2017-2018. They had a band, food trucks, and bouncy houses for the community to come spend time and learn about where their food is grown. It was amazing to see the technology they utilize to produce incredible yields. Fifer uses hand labor, but they also use machines to do a variety of tasks such as planting beds and laying plastic for next years strawberry crops. They use specialized plastic for their high tunnels that reject red UV light to keep the temperatures cool. Their watering systems vary on the crop in which they are placed, but they use pivot irrigation systems or drip. They annually employ over 160 people! Seeing the diversity and the variety of techniques they use to maintain a successful business was very inspirational! Their family business is truly amazing, and contributes to Delaware’s community!

Fifer’s Orchard Field Trip Adventure

On the 23rd of September, we went to have a tour of Fifer Orchards located in Camden-Wyoming, Delaware. This +2,500 acre farm is a fourth generation family run farm. Bobby Fifer gave us a tour of the farm along with going out in the fields to look at the  different types of irrigation systems they have in the fields ( center pivot irrigation and drip irrigation) As well as being showed the fields and where the fruit and produce was being grown we got a chance to look in the packaging and distribution center and how each of the items is processed to enter our local stores and businesses. One extremely interesting thing that I found out while on the farm was that the orchard ships all up and down the east coast and east of the Mississippi River! This is beyond incredible especially for us being such a small state.  Another thing that I found to be interesting was that there is a program called the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this is where the farm puts together pre-paid boxes of produce and have drop-off locations for families to pick up produce. This is more effective that farmers market because there is little to no product waste. Whereas at farmers markets you can run out of produce and make the customer upset or you can bring to much of a certain product and then have leftovers which would have to be thrown away. Fifer’s Orchard always has events and activities going on each weekend. This week was the kick off to their fall fest and there were so many games for kids and vendors for shopping. They also had their shop open which had the BEST Apple CIder Slushies! This was by far one of my favorite field trips and will definitely be visiting them soon again

Fifer’s Orchard

The second trip of the fall semester for PLSC167 was to Fifer’s Orchard in Camden Wyoming Delaware. Fifer’s Orchard is a family run farm that grows a variety of crops with their biggest money-makers being sweet corn and pumpkins. During the trip Bobby Fifer explained to us the entire process the operation goes through from growing, to harvest, to packing, and finally their different forms of retail. Planting, harvesting, and packing are the most labor intensive practices for Fifers. At peak, Fifers hires over 100 H-2A workers to man the tasks. H-2A is a program that allows employers to bring in foreign workers to America for seasonal work. The farm also has its own packing line for apples and other products it grows. Fifers market their products by supplying Walmart and giant with produce while also maintaining their own retail store. They also manage an 18 week Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program called the Delaware Box. Patrons of the Delaware Box pay for a share of the harvest at the beginning of the year return for a box full of what crops are being harvested every other week. The boxes are filled at the farm and shipped to one of 8 pick up points determined by Fifers.

Delaware’s Green Industry

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.

Fifers Orchards Field trip

Our second field trip was held at fifers Orchards. We were given the opportunity of a thorough tore throughout the farm at the orchard, were they grew both fruits and vegetables. It was surprising that pumpkins were among those crops that bring in the greatest income as well as sweet corn. I was very impressed with Fifers’ social media out reaches as they used multiple social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to try and reach out to more potential customers. We got to see firsthand in the assembly lines of apples, where they were boxed by a certain grading standard and those seen unfit to consumption standards are sent to be used for juice or to be disposed of. What I found most interesting was all the different types of apples that they grew at Fifers throughout the seasons. Honey crisp being my favorite of all others grown.

we experienced first hand what an apple line looks like and how they are categorized by grade, variety, and count
we experienced first hand what an apple line looks like and how they are categorized by grade, variety, and count

An A-peel-ing Trip to Fifer Orchard’s

September 17th the class took a trip to Camden-Wyoming Delaware to visit Fifer Orchards, which is family farm established in 1919!! During our tour we saw everything from the fields to the sorting and packing areas to their market. At their farm they grow a diverse set of crops, from apples to corn, pumpkins and into trial crops like brussel sprouts! The part I found really cool was the processing area specifically for the apples, they go through a machine that took multiple pictures, and then sorted the apples based on their size and color!

Employee's sorting and packing apples!
Employee’s sorting and packing apples!

We got to hear just as much about the business and promotion side of things as well as the crop production. Fifer’s has a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) club that they run for 18 weeks of the year and can be picked up at different locations across the state. For those weeks customer’s get a produce box that is filled with different locally grown products that are in season as well as information about Fifer’s events and activities. The trip to Fifer Orchards reinforced the concept we have discussed in class multiple times, about the rising importance of social media in the Ag industry.

Our class talking about CSA boxes, advertising and social media
Our class talking about CSA boxes, advertising and social media