Farmers’ Markets

DOVER — With a record season behind them, Delaware’s farmers’ markets are gearing up for another great year.

Twenty-three community-run farmers’ markets will be opening over the next three months, selling Delaware produce and other farm-fresh goods.

“Farmers’ markets are a great way to connect with the people who grow your food, building relationships and strengthening communities,” said Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “For farmers, they’re a wonderful opportunity to reach new customers and have some great conversations around agriculture’s importance and the strength of our family farms.”

The season begins April 7, with the opening of the Garden Shack Farmers’ Market near Lewes. The Milton Farmers’ Market opens April 22, and the Fresh Friday Farmers’ Market in Wilmington opens April 29. Twelve markets open in May and eight in June.

A farmers’ market directory, complete with locations, hours, and dates of operation, is at the Delaware Buy Local Guide at de.gov/buylocal.

The 2015 season set a record, with more than $3 million in sales, up more than $390,000 over 2014 and up ninefold since 2007.

Nine markets are offering Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) transactions, allowing families to purchase local produce and food items as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

All community-run farmers’ markets are operated at the local level, by municipalities, business groups, farmers or market associations, with the Department of Agriculture providing support and marketing assistance.

Farmers and others interested in becoming a vendor, or community groups interested in starting a local market, can contact Department of Agriculture marketing specialist David Smith at (302) 698-4625 or davidm.smith@state.de.us.

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Media contact:
Dan Shortridge
Director of Communications and Marketing
Delaware Department of Agriculture
302-698-4520

Delaware Farmland Preservation

Delaware farmland preservation mandate fails

The goal of the Delaware Farmland Preservation Program is to keep working farms intact instead of having the land developed as commercial or housing lots. (Delaware State News file photo/Andrew West)

DOVER — The Delaware House of Representatives voted down a constitutional amendment that would have mandated the state provide $10 million for farmland preservation annually.

Members were in favor 20-17, with four absent, but the chamber fell short of the two-thirds needed to change the constitution.

In 2005, the General Assembly unanimously passed a bipartisan bill setting aside $10 million from the realty transfer tax collected by the state every year. That sum was intended to go to the Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation to buy development rights and keep land free from construction.

The law says the state “shall” allocate $10 million on a yearly basis, but the farmland program has received the full level of support only twice in the past seven years.

In the current year, $3 million was provided.

Rep. David Wilson, R-Bridgeville, the sponsor of the legislation, said state officials should not break the law “just because we can.”

Rep. David Wilson

“Because the law is not part of the state’s constitution, this funding is vulnerable and is being raided,” he said on the chamber floor.

The University of Delaware has reported the total economic contribution of agriculture in Delaware in 2008 was $7.95 billion.

Participants in the state’s preservation program first enter into agreements where they pledge not to build on their land for at least a decade. Later, they have the chance to turn their property into an easement, selling the development rights to the state.

The state has spent about $114 million on 808 easements covering 116,000 acres since 1996. Of that, 61,000 acres are in Kent, 42,000 in Sussex and the remainder in New Castle.

Of the 16 lawmakers who represent Kent and Sussex counties and were present Tuesday, 15 voted in support of the bill.

Rep. Wilson said afterward he was not surprised, but was disappointed.

“We’ve lost the cars, the chemicals is well on their way out,” he said, arguing for providing greater support to the agricultural industry.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

Farm Succession Planning Education Series continues on 3/16/16

Farm Succession Planning Education Series

Presented by the University of Delaware Extension and Applied Economics and Statistics and the University of Maryland Extension Ag Law Initiative and Nationwide

Farm Succession Planning is a business and risk management practice that is critical to the agricultural industry and to the health of families and farm businesses.

A series of educational workshops will include family communication, business planning, retirement planning, transition planning, goal setting, legal issues, and case study examples. All of these sessions will present farmers with the knowledge to begin or to continue the process of succession planning.

Families are encouraged to attend the workshops together.

2016 Sessions

January 13th, 2016 – Risk Management Session at Delaware Ag Week
1:00 – 3:00 – Retirement Planning
3:00 – 5:00 – Succession Planning

March 16, 2016 – Business Planning 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Kent County Farm Bureau

May 5, 2016 – Financial Planning 7:00 – 9:00 pm
U of DE Paradee Center

November 2016 – Farm Succession Webinar

2017 Sessions

January – Delaware Ag Week
Leases and transition
Mission statements
Presentation of Case studies examples
For more information contact: Dan Severson – severson@udel.edu, 302-831-8860
Laurie Wolinski – lgw@udel.edu, 302-831-2538
It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age, or national origin.