Tracy and Val’s Green Industry Lecture


One of the most interesting lectures from our Delaware Agriculture class was on 10/24/16 when Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak visited and enlighten us about Delaware’s booming green industry.  But first, Tracy and Val gave us their personal backstories of how they chose successful careers and, indeed, ones they had a passion for, which was very inspiring.  After they explained the paths they carved for their individual success, I was surprised to learn about the huge impact the horticulture industry has on the economy, bringing in over 21 million dollars nationally per year.  This significant amount of economic flow can be attributed to multiple assets of the green industry, including the producers and retailers of horticulture, landscaping, land managers, golf courses, as well as equipment suppliers.  Tracy and Val then further explained the types of plants you would find in a nursery and a floriculture crop production operation.  Nursery crops are trees like evergreens, shade trees, shrubs, indoor fruit and nut trees, and even Christmas trees.  Whereas floriculture crops are garden plants, cultivated greens, flowers, and foliage plants.  The green industry is a growing and imprtant aspect of the large and plentiful Delaware agriculture community.  I learned a great deal from Tracy and Val’s lecture and I am very thankful they took the time to share their knowledge and experiences with me.

Poultry Farm Field Trip

Our first field trip of the semester was to Georgie Cartanza’s organic poultry farm.  To maintain the biosecurity on that farm, we all had to suit up when we got there.  Georgie’s farm has 156,000 birds split up evenly between four houses.  Within the past 3 – 3 ½ years, she transitioned to be an organic bird grower.  Originally, she grew regular roasters and switched to organic broilers.  Operating an organic poultry farm has different expectations compared to a regular poultry farm.  Georgie has tunnel ventilation and evaporative cooling pads to keep the chickens at a comfortable temperature.  Since it is an organic farm, Georgie had to install windows, little doors to let the chickens outside, and enrichment areas.  The organic chickens are given the option to roam outside when they want to, which is what the little doors are used for.  Surprisingly, Georgie said not many of the chickens want to go outside.  The enrichment areas include ramps and bully boxes that are used as “toys” for the chickens.  Also, the feed, temperature, and water are all controlled electrically.  One of the big changes in becoming an organic poultry farm is the type of food the chickens are fed.  The chickens are fed organic food that is imported from Turkey and Argentina.  Georgie showed us how well chickens are treated in the poultry industry.  She recommended to any of us who want to enter the field of poultry that we learn about the poultry industry, take poultry and business classes, and are willing to learn, work, and have a positive attitude.


So you Herd we went to the farm?

Our last field trip of the course ended on a high note, with a tour of the University of Delaware’s own research farm! Leading our tour was Scott Hopkins the farm superintendent! We started off in the bus driving to Webb Farm, and on the drive Mr. Hopkins told our class about the layout of all the land, what was for farming, what was for wetlands or bees. We saw the poultry and Insect buildings on our way over.

Mr.Hopkins talking to the class about the horse stables

Upon arriving we went into the equine building and Mr. Hopkins explained the set up of the classroom area as well as the stable area, which often goes unused. His frustrations with the equine building really stood out to me, the University had it placed in a relatively inconvenient place and has not yet, at least, allowed the building of hay storage- so it has to be carted over when the stable is in use. His comment on the importance of conversing with those who will labor in or in relation to the building being designed before hand, really struck home to me. Just because thinking like that seems like common sense to me, be it working, designing something or in this case building, you would think efficiency and considering all of the variables would be the first priority and the fact that it isn’t always is frustrating.

Mr. Hopkins explaining how the feeder only allows a specific cow to eat from it, while the class is distracted by the cow saying hello!

We walked past the composing area where the class was shown the difference between a newer pile and a nearly done pile of compost (only one of which was visibly steaming!). We walked through the sheep barn and saw the huge packages full of wool, past the horses and back to the bus to drive back to the dairy section of the farm. Where we toured the milking parlor and Mr. Hopkins discussed with us the research area, as well as his hatred of students not asking questions! We finished our tour by stopping into the UD Creamery and Mr. Isaacs treating the class to ice cream!


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


The trip that drone-d on and on!

The third field trip the class went on was to visit the Hoober store in Middletown Delaware. Brian Lam and Dave Wharry were kind enough to talk with our class and show us around the store! We got to see the selling floor,  the garage where repairs are ongoing, and the back and side yards were different tractors and parts sits until needed.

Our class split up into two groups, one group having the opportunity to drive a tractor and another see a drone in action! For the drone presentation we watched Mr. Wharry program the drone right from his phone and send it off to survey part of the property. He talked about how regulations on drones have changed, and how because of the changes, he hopes that they will become more mainstream for farmers to use. He also told a story about doing some scouting with the drone and it accidentally flying over a man’s property, who was not very happy about it. But after discussing what he was doing, why and how, the mans attitude had gone from hostile to interested and even impressed!

Mr. Wharry and his drone

Mr. Lam took students in drives in one of the stores tractors to show us the precision Ag equipment. He had each driver go around different puddles or posts, and then after turning the tractor around had them push a button to activate the auto steer and take their hands off the wheel. It was crazy to be sitting in the cab of a tractor that is driving itself, and along the exact route that we took to get there, around the puddles and posts!

This was a super cool trip to see the technological side of Ag and really see hands on how it’s being used!

Our class at the end of the trip!

Mark Lynas and The GMO Controversey

Genetically modified organisms are a very controversial topic and many people have very polarizing fews based off of feelings and factual evidence. Mark Lynas is one person who has been on both sides of the argument. Mark Lynas started off his lecture at the 2013 OXford Farming Conference with a humble apology and an admittance that he believes he was wrong about GMOs. He used to think that they would bring chaos to the natural world due to man’s interferance with the genetics of plants. He goes on to say he is bascially a man of science and he tells of how that his fears about GMOs were unfounded in the current views of the research into GMOs. Mark makes the case that genetically modified crops are going to be essential to help keep up with the population growth and being able to preserve land.

I personally agree with his views that GMOs are going to be necessary for maintain mankind’s  population growth into numbers around 9.5 billion in the next few decades. Mark tells of how GMOs can actually benefit the world and are not harmful like some environmentalists would like the average person to believe and that some of their arguments are just fear-mongering. I believe that he makes a good case about his change of heart and that GMOs aren’t something that he necessarily wants, but something that the world needs. He was caught up in emotions and what he wanted in the environment that he lost his sense scientific inquiry and checking the facts, something that all to many people still do today. I believe it takes a brave person to admit that they are wrong. GMOs are still being debated to this day, but I think someone like Mr. Lynas being on the Pro-GMO side of the debate is a very powerful player.

An Eggcellent First Trip

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

Georgia Cartanza talking to our class

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.

Hoober’s Field Trip

Our next field trip was to Hoober’s in Middletown, Delaware. While we were there, we got a tour of their shop and got to see a tractor that was taken apart and learned a little about the mechanics of it. We got to see a demonstration with a drone. If the signal had stopped or the battery of the drone was dying it knew exactly when and where to come back to without having to tell it to come back. You have to take a test to be able to fly a drone and there are also rules/regulations you have to follow. I didn’t realize farmer’s used drones to help monitor their crops.  It was really exciting to drive a tractor with the guidance system.  When I first got in I was really surprised with how quite it was. I assumed that because it was such a big piece of equipment that I would have to swing wide to turn but the tractor could turn on a dime.  I had driven tractors before but nothing of that size or with that type of technology, it was a great experience.

Hoober's Visit 2016

Dave Wharry demonstrates drone use

Fifer’s Orchard Field Trip

The second field trip was to Fifer’s Orchard. I really enjoyed seeing that it was a family run business. I was excited to hear about their CSA program, it’s a very good way to get their name out and promote what they’re doing at Fifer’s. We learned how they planted their apple fields, they have a program that you can basically map out like google maps and put it into the system and the machine will follow and plant where you marked within a few inches. I would have thought since they were an orchard that their most popular products would be apples but it was actually sweet corn and pumpkins. We got to see how they sorted their apples, too. As they come in a picture is taken of each individual apple then the system moves it to the group that it fits best into(based on color), then you have the workers take one last look at them as they are packaging them to make sure that they are in the best shape before being shipped out.

Fifer Orchard tour Sept 17, 2016

Poultry Farm Field Trip

Our first field trip was to Georgia Cartanza’s organic poultry farm. Before we even got off the bus we had to suit up to maintain the biosecurity on the farm. She has four chicken houses with a total of 156,000 chickens. She originally grew roasters then switched to organic broilers. Because it is an organic farm, she had install windows into the houses, doors to let the chickens outside, and “toys” for the chickens(bully boxes and ramps). In each house she has cooling pads that help bring down the temperature in the houses. The feed and water are electronically controlled. The manure that is taken out of the houses is composted and sold to a famer that uses it in his fields. When you looked around Georgia’s farm you could see that she has put up plants almost as a barrier. They are used at screens to catch dust and block the smell of the farm from her neighbors.







The GMO Controversy

When Mark Lynas heard of GMOs he immediately chose to oppose them without any reason other than he knew nothing about them. After he began to do his research he soon realized that he was on the wrong side. At the beginning of his speech, Lynas apologies for his ignorance of GMOs, making assumptions based on listening to only what he had heard instead of what scientific experiments had found.

As we know, the population is rising significantly, and in time we will not be able to produce enough food to feed the population. In his speech he explains that these GMOs produce bigger yields in smaller acres of land. They’re the solution to feeding the growing population. Duplicated scientific experiments prove that consuming GMOs or animals eat GM feed is not harmful to humans, yet people continue to believe otherwise. Lynas stated that people that are dying from malnutrition of having an “organic” diet would be in better health if were eating GMOs. GM foods have the potential to save millions of lives, but the technology is being held back. (i.e. countries that have banned GMOs)

Response to “The GMO Controversy”

What do you think of his position?

I agree with his position completely. I believe that people who are lucky enough to be able to choose to not eat GMOs have the right to choose, but they shouldn’t stand in the way of people who need GM crops from getting them. Like he said, the population by 2050 cannot be sustained on organic farming and GM crops are absolutely necessary for feeding the growing population.

Does he make a case for his change of heart and the way he now views GMOs?

I felt like he could’ve explained his change of heart more. The statistics he explained were worthwhile and convincing of the point that GM crops are not bad for us and will actually provide the much needed support for our growing population. But, I don’t think he went into enough depth of why and how he had a change of heart. Just saying that someone commented on his post and it made him go research isn’t enough evidence to make him truly look distinguished and to convince nay-Sayers that he truly has changed his opinion and isn’t just getting paid to support GM producing corporations.

Mark Lynas and the GMO Movement

In 2013, Mark Lynas, a writer and activist gave a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference and was exceedingly open about how his view on GMO crops had drastically changed. He spoke about how his anti-GMO stand boiled down to a lack of education on the subject, stating directly that he, “had done no academic research on the topic, and had a pretty limited personal understanding.” So basically in the 1990’s when he was advocating against GMO’s he was flying by the seat of his pants, but mid 2000’s he started doing some reading, and found out many of the things he had believed were in fact false and backed up by facts and research. Within his speech Lynas makes some great points about how important GMO’s are, that they are basically needed to keep crop yield high enough to support the growing population.

I think that is was very big of Lynas to not only admit that he has had a change of heart, but also to do it so publicly. He apologizes for his actions, but is not necessarily ashamed of them, it shows that peoples minds do change and it’s a socially okay thing. After addressing why his change of heart occurred he continues to beef up the argument for the use of GMO’s in our society. How there are a major number of benefits and few cons to GMO’s that people aren’t often aware of, or completely educated about, emphasizing that there is no real reason GMO’s should be banned.

The GMO Controversy

In the video, “The GMO Controversy,” Mark Lynas, an environmentalist and author, talks about his change of heart for GMO’s.  He was the founder of Europe’s anti-GMO movement and apologized for spreading false information about genetically modified organisms.  When he originally heard about Monsanto’s GM soya, he thought they were experimenting with our food and mixing genes that were not supposed to be mixed.  GMO’s were banned in Europe and other countries because of his movement.  The anti-GMO movement was the most successful campaign he has ever been a part of but it was for the wrong reasons.  It is an anti-science movement and that is why he regrets it.

GMO’s actually add to our economy and environment.  Our population is growing and if it were not for genetically modified organisms, we would not be able to feed the population.  Yield is one of the most important factors in agriculture and sustainably feeding the world.  GMO’s produce higher yield due to the use of technology.

I found it very interesting that he would support the anti-GMO movement for so many years being an environmentalist.  It is crazy that this movement had such an impact on people and still does today.  There are many people who are too quick to listen to what they hear from other people and read on the internet, without actually checking if the information is factual.  Mark Lynas mentioned that if it were not for the increase in the use of technology, we would no longer have the Amazon Rainforest or tigers in India.  The population is growing so much that if we did not have the technology that we have today, we would need a lot more land to grow food for everyone.  Mark Lynas makes a strong case for his change of heart for GMO’s.

GMO Controversy

In the video Mark Lynas first believed that genetically modified organisms were horrible, that they were a disgrace to science. Lynas would talk about the effects of GMOs, even though he didn’t know much about GMO’s at all. When Lynas actually dug into information on GMO’s , he discovered that Genetically modified organisms are actually very beneficial. He states that talking bad about GMO’s was ignorant on his part. Lynas quickly admitted that after researching GMO’s he takes back his original statement on GMO’s.

Mark Lynas goes on to say that GMOs are great because they only transfer necessary genes from one crop to another in fewer steps, they provide more accuracy and precision to farming, they keep costs low for producer and consumers, as well as higher yields. He also goes on to say that GMO’s reduce the use of pesticides. Lynas says that using GMO crops is a responsible way to feed the globe as a whole. The world is growing more and more everyday and GMO’s are a great way to keep up with the growing population. GMO’s bring with it maximized crop yields, also helping the growing population. He states that with the Problem of limited resources and limited amount of land GMO’s are a very practical way to feed the globe.

I support the new statement made by Lynas. GMO’s are great. The problem is that media is exposing GMO’s as bad. People don’t want to investigate GMO’s on their own, they would rather listen to the media that displays the GMO’s as bad to get a reaction, rather then real scientific facts. One statement I do love is Lynas says no matter what people have the right to believe in GMO’s or not. But like Lynas I also believe in GMO’s and think they’re a great advancement and perfect way to feed the growing population.

A Class Journal for UDel CANR AGRI 130