On Saturday October 6th, 2018 we went to Fifer’s Orchard and got to learn all about the ins and outs of their operation. Once there we got to meet Bobby Fifer who introduced himself, gave some information on their operation and then gave us a tour of the place. While there we also got to learn how they use different types of irrigation depending on the crop they are growing. The tomatoes are grown in high tunnels and they use drip irrigation to water. Then they have center pivot irrigation for their large acreage crops. Some of the major pests that their farm battles are rain, disease pressure and nematodes which result in crop losses. During our tour with Bobby Fifer he showed us some fields that were suffering from the rain we had. In his kale field he pointed out the diseased leaves and pointed out the weeds that they had. Due to the amount of rain the weeds that they had taken out of the ground had re-rooted themselves. During the tour we also got to see the strawberries being planted. It was also interesting to see their storage facility and the machine they use to pack apples. Thank you Fifer for taking time out of your busy schedule to tell us about the operation and for giving us a tour of it!
Delaware’s former secretary of agriculture Ed Kee visited our class and shared with us some valuable information regarding the work he has done throughout his career. His lecture kept my attention because he was once a student in the same classrooms in Townsend Hall that we are all in and eventually had the ability to share his knowledge from UD with the world in countries such as Ukraine. His words were inspiring and introduced me to a lot of things I was unaware of about Delaware and the world. Kee referred to Delaware as a food shed because we are an eight hour drive from 1/3 of the entire Unites States population. That statistic alone was enough to get me thinking about how important the Delaware agriculture system is and how the work we are doing and the knowledge we are obtaining now is going to have an impact on future generations to come.
Monday, September 17th Ed Kee joined the AGRI130 class to discuss the various aspects that make up Delaware agriculture. One thing important to note is that Delaware, and the rest of Delmarva, is able to transport any goods/products to one third of the US population in eight hours or less.
In the 1950s the number of farms and acres of farmland in Delaware came to about 70-80%. Unfortunately with the constant development of land and influx of people living the cities, the number of farms and farmland has decreased. Something done to combat this declining rate of farmland is that a farmer can sell their developmental rights to the state therefore insuring that the land can never be developed and can only be used for farming purposes.
Ed Kee helped to put forth and start a program that allows individuals interested in beginning to farm an opportunity to do so. This program is called the Young Farmers Program and it is strictly for use in Delaware only (other states may have their own programs). The way this program works is that once an individual finds a farm they would like to purchase, the program will lend out $500,000.00 to be paid back in thirty years with zero interest! Furthermore, since the costs to purchase a farm are more than that, any loans taken from a bank will become primary and the loan from the program can be paid back after the bank loans. This is such an amazing program that I never knew existed. It is definitely something to look into if you are interested in starting your very own farm.