Category Archives: History

Delaware as a “FoodShed” by Ed Kee

In Agri 130 on September 19th, Ed Kee gave a guest lecture on the profitability of agriculture and how Delaware can play a major role in providing food for American citizens. One reason why Delaware is such a powerhouse, when it comes to supplying agriculture to the eastern United States, is because 1/3 of the of the entire population is within 8 hours of Delaware. This number is essential in understanding why Delaware has been so successful in the agricultural industry, because of the easy access to buyers and markets. In Delaware the total agricultural economic activity is 7.9 billion dollars, all of that money goes back to the farmers and back into the community. Another thing that Ed Kee informed our class about is the abundance of tomatoes in the agricultural community in the 1920’s. Additionally, Ed talked about vegetable processors, and how in 1919 there were 103 in Delaware and currently there are only two, J.G. Townsends in Georgetown, and PictSweet in Bridgeville.

Agriculture has developed rapidly since the early 1900’s when it began to be an industry in Delaware. Some of those things include improvements in irrigation, changes in the genetic makeup of crops, and a better understanding of soil fertility, weed control, and pest management. All of these things have led to Delawares ability to be a leading producer of many products including but not limited to poultry, sweet corn, and lima beans. Ed Kee’s lecture brought insight into many of the reasons why Delaware should be looked at as a FoodShed for the American people.

Delaware Food Shed with Guest Speaker Ed

On September 17th 2018 Ed Kee came to the University of Delaware to discuss The Agriculture industry in Delaware. Ed began his talk by giving a brief history of the agriculture industry in Delaware. For example, In 1950 there were around 8,300 farms that accumulated about 904,000 acres of land. In the late 1970s there were 3,398 farms that took up just under 669,650 acres of land. The most recent results taken in 2007 showed that there are a little bit more than 2,500 farms and 510,253 acres of farm lands.  I was amazed that the number of farms and number and acres has decreased over time. That being said, farmland still makes up 41% of the land mass in Delaware. After Ed discussed the past of the agriculture industry he talked about the future. He said that by 2050 the global agriculture would have to grow by 70% to feed the estimated 9.3 billion people on the planet. It was very interesting to think about all the possible ways this industry could change and must change in order to provide food for the increasing population size.

Ed Kee on Delaware as a “Food Shed”

Former Delaware Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Kee, visited our class on  9/17 to deliver an insightful guest lecture on numerous components on Delaware agriculture. Delaware agriculture plays an extremely important role in feeding America because 1/3 of the national population lives within 8 hours of the state. To meet the nutritional needs of these people, canning, grain, vegetable, and poultry industries took off in Delaware. In order to maintain this tradition of Delaware agriculture, Ed Kee himself spearheaded an Aglands Preservation campaign that offers economic resources to ensure that farmland remains farmland. This initiative, along with innovations in technology and management practices, are key components to keeping agricultural systems sustainable for future growing generations. It was very reassuring to here that influential people, such as Ed Kee, are addressing these pressing issues.

Ed Kee’s Guest Lecture on Delaware Agriculture

Delaware the first state; located on the eastern side of United States is one of the smallest states in the country, but has a huge impact on the countries agriculture economy believe it or not. During our guest lecture from former Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee, I learned a lot about the small state of Delaware that I thought was quite interesting.

One thing that stood out to me was this state brings in $1.2 billion in Ag Sales annually which then stimulates $6 to $7 billion of economic activity throughout the state that is not necessarily agriculture but does have some connections. Then there is around 510,000 acres of farmland in Delaware that makes up 41% of the land in farms. Another thing that is interesting is how Delaware is focusing on preserving their farmland and trying to help young farmers start up. The state currently has 110,000 acres preserved strictly for the use of farmland and has a program called Delaware’s Young Farmer Program that helps with the transition to the next generation. This lecture really showed me that Delaware is trying to do everything they can because the world’s population is constantly growing and needs agriculture for support.


Delaware Agriculture Industry by Ed Kee

Delaware is in a prime location for the agriculture industry to thrive as its location is central in the Eastern United States and can reach 1/3 of the population within an 8 hour drive. 510,000 acres of Delaware are in agriculture which is 41% of the total land mass. 24% of the land is permanently preserved which allows agriculture to remain as Delaware’s number one industry. The amount of land and farms has decreased which is due to development but the amount of food produced has increased due to vastly improved technology. The canning industry in Delaware began in 1855 in Dover when the first canning factory was made. It allowed for food to be preserved and prevented microorganisms from getting inside which increased the lifespan of the food. The number of vegetable processors has decreased from 103 in 1919 to only 3 processors being in Delaware today. This is due to consolidation of companies into larger companies and a higher cost of business. The most surprising fact I learned was how tomatoes used to be grown in Delaware in large numbers but now no tomatoes are grown. Agriculture has to remain profitable for farmers but there also has to be a balance of regulations to keep consumers safe. The majority of farms are family owned and the best way to keep their land as farm land is to ensure they are profitable.

Ed Kee on Delaware’s Agriculture Industry as a “FoodShed”

Ed Kee’s lecture discussed the importance of Delaware’s Agriculture Industry for being a “FoodShed for the Eastern U.S.” The fact that one third of the population lives within eight hours of Delaware helps make this possible. Ed Kee also talked about the importance of the rail road. The completion of the Delaware Railroad encouraged a market driven agricultural economy. The railroad faced competition with trucks when the DuPont Highway was completed. All the transportation options for food made it worthwhile to farm in Delaware. Ed Kee also discussed the importance of technological advances. An example he gave was about Woodside Farm Creamery. They will be using a robotic cow milker. With the steady increase in world population, efficiency in agriculture is going to become a much more pressing issue. Hopefully as time passes, the industry will be able to use technology to keep up with feeding as much of the world as possible.

Ed Kee Guest Lecture

It was very interesting to listen to Ed See guest lecture in class. He spoke a lot about the evolution of Delaware Agriculture as well as the history behind it. Right from the gecko, it was really cool to hear that Delaware has an Ag Land Preservation Program that works towards preserving farm land. In Pa, we have a program that does the same thing and it is cool to see other states working hard to protect agriculture too. However, it was really surprising to see the numbers relating to how much acreage has been lost over the years. I couldn’t believe that between 1950 and 2007 the total acreage in Delaware has decreased 24%. Besides his slides, it was also interesting to just hear him talk about his personal experiences in agriculture locally and globally! It is very cool to hear this and then see how it shaped what he wanted to accomplish. What really stuck out was Delaware’s Young Farmer Program that gives young people a financial gateway to start farming. I really liked this program because I think the only way agriculture will progress is if we give young people the opportunity to get started. Overall, I very much enjoyed listening to Ed Kee guest lecture and am looking forward to his next lecture.

The Importance of Delaware Agriculture, a Foodshed of the Eastern United States

On September 17, 2018, AGRI 130 students received information about the relevance of Delaware agriculture from Ed Kee, former Secretary of Agriculture for the state of Delaware (DE). A foodshed is defined as a geographic location that provides food for a population. Delaware is a foodshed that is conveniently placed within an eight-hour drive of one-third of the US population. This centrality gives Delaware the opportunity to produce poultry, crops, and other agricultural products for shipment to major cities. Since Delaware is an important agricultural asset, the state is preserving agricultural land through the Aglands Preservation Program which prevents participating land from being developed.
Over time, Delaware became known for their poultry and fruit production. Products would travel by train and boat to large cities on the east coast. Canned products also became a part of the agricultural success for DE in the 1800’s. Many canning factories within Delaware canned tomatoes which fulfilled nutritional deficiencies in the 1800’s. The canned tomato industry has since moved to California. Agriculture has deep roots in Delaware; Woodside Dairy which was established in 1796 is still in business today.
Although the agricultural history of Delaware is long, agriculturalists have grown with modern technology to meet the need for agricultural products. Agriculture is an important part of Delaware and the United States. In order to meet the needs of a growing population, we need to make sure that agriculture stays profitable and that agricultural job positions are filled. Thank you to Ed Kee for coming to the University of Delaware and speaking to the AGRI 130 students.

Evolution of the Poultry Industry on Delmarva: Georgie Cartanza

Coming from a farming background with my family that raised chickens in the outskirts of Frankford. I thought I knew everything there was to know when It came to chickens. Then when the lecture began with Georgie. we learned about how the industry started off with a mishap with instead of a lady getting  50 chickens she received 500. Then how the industry grew from taking 9 weeks for a chicken in the 50’s to weigh only 905 g then in 2005 it was up to 4,202 g in weight over 9 weeks. From that people began to think farmers were pumping them with steroids and hormones. which is not the case the farmers and hatchery’s began to look into the genetics that’s were they began to breed the chickens to the best rooster and hen.

I began explaining  some of the topics we learned in the lecture with Georgie Cartanza  to my father that took care of the chickens on the farm he was very surprised and so was I that how much the industry has changed. Like how much less you have to do to keep the chickens comfortable and not being to stressed. You could control your heating and or cooling of the house by smart phone instead of having to go in and change it all by hand. One major thing I learned was that in organic poultry farming that the chickens can’t get any antibiotics if they are sick. So they may take a big cut since they can’t sell there chickens. Also that they can have the chickens go outside of the chicken house which is cool. In a way it is kind of scary because they are more likely to get Avian influenza. which can spread and your farm has to be In quarantine.  There is so many new things that I learned from her can’t wait to she her farm soon.

Georgie Cartanza Talks About the Poultry Industry and its Misconceptions

On Monday organic chicken farmer Georgie Cartanza spoke to our class about the poultry industry on the Delmarva peninsula. Ms. Cartanza has over 25 years of experience in the poultry industry. She is an Upfield Scholar and has travelled around the world studying other poultry operations in other countries.

She started off by telling us about the Delmarva poultry industry and how it was pretty much started by accident when in 1923 Ms. Steele ordered 50 chicks but was delivered 500. She made a lot of money selling her chickens and others started similar operations and it’s just gotten bigger from there. Next we learned from her that Sussex County is the highest in broiler production per square mile and Delaware produces 31% of the regions poultry. The economic impact of the poultry is huge and creates many jobs in and outside of the industry. Delaware chicken farmers have many choices of integrators to contract with making the market very competitive.

With all this talk of industry Ms. Cartanza talked about technology and how the chickens are treated. “If we don’t take care of them [chickens], they won’t take care of us [monetarily]” Ms. Cartanza said in reference to the false idea that most farmers mistreat their animals. Recently  there’s been a social trend in people knowing what’s best for how their food is raised based on what the modern media has showed them. Ms. Cartanza used the example of people wanting to be humanitarian and not eat chickens that have been treated with anti- biotics. “If a flock were to get sick, wouldn’t it be in humane not to give them anti-biotics?” She asked us. There’s lots of examples of “humanitarian” ideas that don’t help and may even harm the animals.

Who doesn’t love horses?

In Delaware, the horse racing is a large industry. Horse racing dates back to 1760 where the first racing facility was built in Newark, DE. Today, Harrington Raceway is the oldest continuously operating harness racing track in the country. In Delaware we race Harness and Thoroughbred.

Harness racing is when there is a cart and rider behind the horse. Harness racing in Delaware happens about 200 days of out the year, with approximately 2,300 races. Whereas thoroughbred is when there is a jockey on the back of the horse and is typically raced 80 days out of the year, with about 600 races.


This industry is highly regulated. You must have a license to race and they only hand out 2,000 a year in Delaware. These licenses go to owners, trainers, drivers, groomers, vendors and track employees. Regulations include overseeing the race, tracks, paddocks, safety, welfare, and testing on both the racer and the horse. Testing can occur at any time and any substance can be tested.

Now we are talking money. In 2014, the horse racing industry total contribution to the Delaware economy was nearly $182 million, including the support of 1,540 jobs. It is great to know that every $100 spent by a horseman, tracks, agencies and associations results in $182 of total spending in Delaware. For each race the 1st place owner receives 50% of the purse, 2nd place owner is 25%, 3rd place owner gets 12%, 4th place gets 8% and 5th place gets 5%. While the driver of the winning horse get 5% and trainer gets 5%. The average purse for harness racing is $50,000. Be sure to stop by a local raceway and see a race for yourself!

The Horse Racing Industry

Growing up with grandparents that owned racehorses I loved going to Harrington to watch them race. While its not as popular today Horse Racing used to be a huge industry in Delaware. Mark Davis spoke to the class about how the horse racing industry has changed overtime and the economic impacts on Delaware. Horse racing is actually one of the oldest sports and was brought to America by the British.

Mr. Mark Davis talked about the different types of horse racing, Thoroughbred and Harness racing. Harness racing is much more common with about 2300 races a year compared to only 600 a year for Thoroughbred.

Horse Racing has about a $182 million impact on Delawares economy. It also supports about 1540 jobs. The horse racing industry is another great example of careers in agriculture and animals. I throughly enjoyed this lecture because it was a topic I didn’t know much about except for watching the sport growing up.

Tractors and Combines and Drones, Oh My!

Our third trip was to the faraway land of Middletown, DE to visit the Hoober Farm Equipment store. Hoober is a company that sells and services all types of agricultural equipment, from planters to harvesters and everything in between. The tour started inside of the store where we met Brian Lam and Dave Wharry, who gave us a brief history of the company. We learned that the company was founded in 1941 and has been run by the same family for three generations!

I had always thought that farm equipment was relatively simple – big hunks of iron that plow, plant and harvest. But as we also learned, that isn’t the case! Almost all modern farm equipment is incredibly advanced and almost entirely run by computers. Tractors and other vehicles use satellites and GPS to farm land without even needing a driver! In fact, their most used tool in equipment repair and diagnostics is a small laptop – just plug it into your tractor and it can figure out what your problem is, and how to fix it. And of course, we can’t mention technology without talking about their drones. We were lucky enough to witness a demonstration of a $10,000-dollar drone that is used for surveying areas – just create a route for the drone to fly using the computer software and watch it fly! It can take pictures of distinct types of wavelengths to survey farmland and diagnose any potential problems that a farmer may have.

Before leaving, we all got the opportunity to drive tractors and sprayers around the lot for ourselves. I must admit that I was a bit nervous driving a piece of equipment that costs more than my house, but after a bumpy start I was able to complete the track and safely park it back in the lot. But as nervous as I was, I had a ton of fun and could absolutely see myself driving one in the future!