Posts Tagged ‘Sussex farms’

Our heart and soul is down on the farm

September 21, 2009
A Century Farm near Lewes.

A Century Farm near Lewes.

What really makes up the Heart and Soul of Sussex County?

Bill McGowan and his group at the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension have been trying to come with the answer to that question for the past two years.

They have come up with great quotes, anecdotes and photographs as they try to define Sussex County.

There is no doubt in my mind what is the heart and soul Sussex County. All one needs to do is take a ride along any back road and it becomes obvious.

Farming is the backbone, foundation and lifeblood of the county – end of story.

When you live in the same place for more than 25 or 30 years, you begin to take our farming heritage for granted.

Although people who rarely get out of the rat race around Route 1 would disagree, for the most part, Sussex is a pastoral county dotted with farms. To really appreciate the rural nature of the county, take a bicycle ride or road trip on any back road.

And the further you get to the middle and west of the county, the bigger the farm fields get. Look at a Sussex County map.

The bad news is that farmland is disappearing and those small, white clapboard farmhouses that define the landscape are disappearing with it.

According to the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture data from 2007, Sussex County is losing farmland at a rate of about 5 percent per year, or about 2,300 acres annually. The county still has nearly 270,000 acres of farmland, which is more than half of the state’s 510,000 acres.

More than half of that total, about 150,000 acres, is in the Nanticoke Watershed in western Sussex County. Close to half of all land in the watershed, which is centered around the City of Seaford, is farmland.