BY GRETCHEN MILLER & CAROLINE J. PHILLIPS / PHOTOGRAPHY BY CAROLINE J. PHILLIPS
Rotational Grazing Photos and article by Kurt Jacobson
DORCHESTER COOPERATOR OF THE YEAR.
Darlene & Arthur's farm known as “Pop’s Old Place” in Hurlock is truly one of a kind with its Randall cattle, Heritage hogs and other livestock. The Dorchester Conservation District and Natural Resource Conservation Service have been working with her and her husband Arthur, since 2012 to develop her operation using best management practices and new technology.
The farm was established in 1909 and is now known for free range hens, Heritage hogs, Randall Cattle and lambs which are all grass fed. In 2016, Darlene looked at expanding her operation, but needed additional access to grazing land. Staff from the district and NRCS met with her to design a stream crossing and travel lane to allow for additional pasture to permit rotational grazing, with heavy use areas as entrances to each with pipeline and watering facilities; as well
as fencing. Darlene believes properly managed grazing animals help heal the land from the effects of tillage and erosion.
In recent years she has become a partner in education-- having participated in the 2017 Women and Land Conservation Learning Circle with Dorchester SCD and the American Farm Land Trust. Darlene also opened up her farm to University of MD Extension for a tour of her operation for Annie’s Project in 2018 which focuses on women in agriculture. Darlene shared many of her successes and detours in the development of her farm during the tour and
continually encouraged attendees to contact her if they had any questions on getting started.
April 2019 she welcomed all Eastern Shore Planners and Technicians with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) to visit her farm for an intensive day of “Fence Training”.
Due to her dedication with regards to conservation, stewardship and education she was designated and honored with the Dorchester County Cooperator of the Year Award for 2019. MD Department of Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder also presented Darlene with a citation in recognition of the award.
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