Contact: Rick Mickowski, Delaware Conservation Districts, 302-832-3100 ext. 113, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902. Photos available.
Armstrong family of Smyrna named New Castle Conservation District’s
2012 Cooperator of the Year
SMYRNA (Feb. 11, 2013) - The New Castle Conservation District (NCCD) has chosen the Armstrong family of Two Eagles Farm, LLC, as 2012 Cooperator of the Year. The Armstrongs have owned and farmed their “piece of heaven” in southern New Castle County north of Smyrna since 1946 and were selected for their continued environmental stewardship and implementation of various conservation practices.
“We are pleased to honor the Armstrong family for their continued conservation efforts,” said Robert Emerson, Chairman of the NCCD Board of Supervisors. “Their dedication to improving the environment is an example for all to follow.”
Currently, the farm is operated by Larry and Helen Armstrong and their son, Larry Armstrong Jr., and his wife Kathleen. Of the 410 acres the Armstrongs manage, 120 acres are tillable acres, 120 acres are woodland, and the remaining acres are tidal marsh. They are currently raising 58 Angus-Hereford beef cattle and 12 sheep, and working a seven-year rotation of corn and soybeans with winter cover crops, as well as hay and pasture.
The Armstrongs were recipients of the Governor’s Agricultural Conservation Award for New Castle County in 2004, and since that time have continued to improve and increase conservation practices on the farm.
The NCCD and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service have worked with the Armstrongs to implement a number of important conservation practices for improving soil and water quality and wildlife habitat. These practices include installing shallow wildlife ponds, a manure storage structure, rain gutters on farm buildings, cattle watering stations with heavy use protection areas, warm season grass plantings and a cool season grass meadow.
Planting crops using no-till conservation practices, fencing and rotational grazing, planting cover crops and quality deer management also are practiced on the farm. Last fall, Larry Jr. planted a wildlife food plot of cool season chicory, kale and annual rye for deer and other wildlife to eat.
These conservation practices on the Armstrong farm help protect the soil from erosion, add organic matter back into the soil, assist with the proper management and use of animal waste to protect and improve water quality, and also attract and benefit wildlife.
“Taking care of the land is a passion instilled by my Mom and Dad. I learned at a young age that our natural resources are the rarest of commodities,” Larry Jr. said.
The Armstrongs have plans to add more conservation practices. Additional fencing for rotational grazing is planned and a new brand – Heritage Oak Farm – for their all-natural beef and lamb is being developed. The name is inspired by a tree on the property.
“It’s the largest swamp chestnut oak in Delaware, and it reminds us that good stewardship lasts many lifetimes,” said Larry Jr. “Our goal is to provide 300 days of grazing with supplemental corn and soybean meal grown on the farm. This means our meat products will be all natural, local and sustainable.” This farming approach entails managing animals, grain crops and forages through long term rotation.
The New Castle Conservation District is a governmental subdivision of the State of Delaware and is responsible for conservation work within New Castle County. The District works in both agricultural and urban conservation and uses a voluntary, cooperative approach to resolve natural resource issues. Through technical assistance and various cost-share programs, the District helps private landowners to get “conservation on the ground.”
For more information on the New Castle Conservation District, please call 302-832-3100, ext. 3, or visit www.newcastleconservationdistrict.org.
Vol. 43, No. 38