Summer is time to celebrate farming heritage

July 21, 2023

There’s no doubt that agriculture is big business in Sussex County. In fact, it’s the county’s No. 1 industry, with a market value of $1.2 billion and 45% of the county's land devoted to farming. There are more than 1,370 farms in the county; the average size is nearly 200 acres. The industry employs more than 15,000 people.

Sussex County is the top broiler and lima bean producing county in the country; it ranks in the top 2% of counties nationally in value of vegetables produced.

Corn is the top crop, watermelons are the leading fruit crop and poultry broilers are the most valuable agricultural product.

While much of the county's farmland is planted with corn and soybeans to feed its poultry industry, farmers are increasingly growing fruits and vegetables for fresh-market sales to supply the popular farmers markets in nearly every local city and town.

More than 50 roadside produce stands operate around the county, in addition to legacy farm markets like Magee Farms, T.S. Smith, Evans Farms, Bennett Orchards and Parsons Farms.

We are fortunate to have strawberries, radishes, peas, carrots and asparagus in the spring, and apples, watermelons, peppers and tomatoes in late summer and early fall. And the season continues into the fall with pumpkins, cabbages and potatoes.

In the middle of summer, we really have an explosion of vegetables such as cucumbers, green beans, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and sweet corn, plus fruits including cantaloupes, blueberries and peaches. All this produce is grown within county borders.

What a treat to enjoy produce at night that was picked fresh that morning!

And what better way to celebrate our farming legacy and the abundance of fruits and vegetables than to head north to the Delaware State Fair, taking place from July 20 to 29.

The profusion of contests, demonstrations and displays devoted to farming gives us a chance to learn about and appreciate an industry that has been the lifeblood of the county since the 19th century.

  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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