Highlighting two paths to the future for Delaware agriculture, Gov. Jack Markell and Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee welcomed a group of young Wilmington urban farmers and an international trade delegation to the Delaware State Fair.
The joint ceremony on Governor’s Day at the fair honored both young people who are actively growing community gardens and urban farms in the city, and representatives of Delaware’s sister state, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.
“The young people we recognize today are future leaders of their communities,” said Markell. “We value their work to foster learning and understanding about the natural world and how our food is made. It’s appropriate that as we acknowledge their efforts and the importance of the agriculture industry to our state’s economy and heritage, we also express appreciation for the relationship we enjoy with our sister state of Miyagi. In a global economy, it’s critical that all Delawareans have opportunities to build connections with communities around the world. We’re proud to build strong business ties with our Japanese friends, including through exports of agricultural products.”
Kee said urban agriculture is one way young people can learn entrepreneurial skills while connecting with the deep traditions of Delaware farming, noting that some of the youth sell their produce at local farmers markets.
“Whether they’re growing lettuce or watermelon, kale or lima beans, these young men and women are learning the same lessons as our early farmers - the joy of getting their hands dirty in the soil, the excitement of watching things grow and the independence that comes with growing your own food,” Kee said.
The Wilmington students were selected for a trip to the fair because of their many hours working in some of the city’s community gardens and urban farms. More than 20 currently are located in Wilmington and New Castle County.
The Miyagi delegation has been meeting with Delaware businesses and greeting fair visitors this week, with Japanese cuisine featured as part of free cooking demonstrations at the Department of Agriculture building. Earlier in the week, they met with Delaware businesses to explore opportunities and partnerships, including Jannsen's Market, ShopRite, Peppers and Dogfish Head.