Houston poultry farmers receive Environmental Stewardship Award

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Harrington, DE – Poultry farmers Randy and Jordan McCloskey were recognized during Delaware Ag Week for their efforts to improve water quality and reduce nutrient runoff with the 2017 Delaware Environmental Stewardship Award.

The McCloskey’s farm is located in Houston, where they grow broilers for Allen Harim Foods. On top of the four poultry houses, with a capacity of 136,800 birds per flock, the McCloskey’s farm 500 acres of grain. As part of their efforts to be good environmental stewards, the McCloskey’s have utilized diverse road-side plantings to help reduce dust, control odors, and increase aesthetics; a storm water pond on the farm is fed by seven swales; and they follow a nutrient management plan that utilizes their poultry litter for soil health benefits. When farming is done for the day, both Jordan and Randy serve as ambassadors for the industry speaking with neighbors about the antibiotic-free chickens they raise and debunking myths surrounding the industry.

The Environmental Stewardship Awards were presented Monday to the McCloskey’s and three other runner-ups by Nutrient Management Commission Chairman Bill Vanderwende and Nutrient Management Administrator Chris Brosch.

“Each of the poultry companies nominates a Delaware poultry grower that excels in preserving and enhancing environmental quality on their farms,” Brosch said. “These farmers are great examples of the hard work and dedication that Delaware farmers have in protecting our land and water resources.”

Runners-up were:

  •  Josh Parker of Bridgeville who began farming in 2008, grows for Perdue Farms, with a capacity of 100,500 roasters per flock. Parker has planted a diverse assortment of flowering native shrubs and trees as visual buffers and windbreaks. He has planted bald cypress trees in swales between houses to help take up nutrients, while storm water from the production area drains into a farm pond for treatment.
  •  Norris and Phyllis West of Laurel, who grow for Mountaire Farms, have six poultry houses with a capacity of 168,000 broilers per flock. The West’s have been raising chickens since 1968. The farm has four modern and well-maintained poultry houses. On the property, the West’s utilize three manure sheds and two composters. They have created a drainage pond and planted the banks in trees as a buffer.
  • Brian Kunkowski of Laurel, who grows for Amick, raises 144,000 broilers per flock in his four poultry houses on 32 acres. Along with a manure shed, the storm water engineering includes stone beds along the houses, grass swales draining to a 2.5-acre pond lined with giant trees and a screened drain. Kunkowski also owns horses, but leaves the hayfields un-mowed in the winter so that wildlife can benefit.

The McCloskeys will receive $1,000, a plaque and sign for their farm. The runners-up will receive $500, plaques and signs.

Past recipients of the Environmental Stewardship Award include Ted Layton and Scott Willey (2016); Chris Lesniowski of Marydel (2015); Georgie Cartanza of Little Creek (2014); Connie Carmean of Laurel (2013); Marilyn and Lee Ellers, Sparrow’s Song Farm, Houston (2012); Douglas and Deborah Vanderwende, Locust Grove Farm, Greenwood (2011); Frank Robinson and family, Dead Broke Farm, Harrington (2010); Mary Bryan, Laurel (2009); Joe Bauer, Harrington (2008); Scott Peterman, Milford (2007); and Guy and Nancy Phillips, Georgetown (2006).

The awards are supported by Allen Harim Foods, Amick Farms, Mountaire Farms and Perdue Farms.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, (302) 698-4542, Stacey.Hofmann@delaware.gov


Find a locally-grown Christmas tree from a Delaware farmer

DOVER — More than 30 Delaware farmers have Christmas trees available for First State merrymakers this holiday season, with firs, spruces and pines in abundance – and easy to find and buy with the Delaware Fresh mobile app. The app and a related website, de.gov/christmastrees, feature locations, hours and other shopping information.

“It’s great family fun to pick out just the right locally-grown tree for your house,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “Buying from a Delaware farm is a guarantee to get the freshest tree and support our local tree farmers at the same time.”

Growing Christmas trees is a specialized business in Delaware, with growers selecting particular varieties for attractiveness or other features. It typically takes seven to 10 years to grow a thriving 7-foot-tall First State Christmas tree. This is the busiest time of year for Delaware’s Christmas tree farmers, Kee said, but they work year-round to care for their trees.

The Delaware Fresh app is available free for download on Android, iPhone and Windows 8 phone platforms at https://delaware.gov/apps/.

To pick the right tree, examine it carefully, looking out for these details:

>> The shape and size of a tree will depend on where you plan to place it and the height of the ceiling in your home. Some people want a more slender tree like a fir, while others like a larger, fuller tree like a spruce, and still others prefer a fuller, bushier tree like a pine.

>> Although most people prefer a well-rounded and shapely tree, you may find it more practical and economical to buy one that is somewhat flat or sparsely branched in one side, so that it fits into a corner or against a wall.

>> While “choose-and-cut” purchasers gain in popularity, families that buy their trees from retail lots can also check for freshness. They can test cut trees by bending needles to check resilience (if it springs back into position, the tree is fresh); bumping the base of the tree on the ground (if the needles don’t fall, the tree is fresh); and feeling the bottom of the trunk (if sappy and moist, the tree is fresh).

When the tree is home, families still need to care for it to make it stay fresh throughout the season:

>> Keep a cut tree in a cool, shaded area, sheltered from wind, with the trunk in a bucket of water until you are ready for set up.

>> Just before putting a cut tree into its stand, cut an inch or two off the butt end. This fresh cut will allow the tree to more readily take up water once it is moved inside.

>> Fresh trees take up water at a very fast rate. You should check the water level two hours after setting up the tree. Then, check the water level at least once daily to see that it is above the bottom of the tree’s trunk. It is not uncommon for trees to take up a quart or more of water daily.

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Contact:
Dan Shortridge
Chief of Community Relations
Delaware Department of Agriculture
302-698-4520