Sussex County has been an agricultural center since its first settlements. Over the last 300+ years, farming in the County has gone through several stages. Dairy farms were most prevalent in the 19th and early 20th century, especially after the arrival of railroads to the county. Even by the 1950’s residents could boast that there were more cows than people in Sussex County.
In the last sixty years many changes have come to Sussex County agriculture. The Farmers’ Grange that was vital to the agricultural communities is disappearing. The number of dairy farms in the county has also decreased. On the increase are farms raising hay, horses, small animals, and Christmas trees/ornamental shrubs.
Another trend is agritourism. Wineries combine cultivation with tasting events. Alpaca farms feature fiber shops. Orchards offer cider and apple picking opportunities. Farms offer U-Pick periods for berries and pumpkins, pies & jams, hayrides, and sunflower mazes. Farmers’ Markets have sprung up in many communities and offer produce and other agricultural products.
Along with offering product, some markets also offer tastings and music. Agritourism brings new people into the county, looking for experiences not available in more urban parts of the state. This influx of visitors supports both farmers and neighboring businesses.
The Farmland Preservation Program views farmland as a resource and farmers as its stewards as irreplaceable. “Agriculture provides food and fiber, clean air, stormwater management, groundwater recharge, wildlife habitat, and the open, scenic vistas that are the hallmark of Sussex County’s landscapes.” Since 1983, 12,362 acres have been permanently preserved.
Agriculture continues to be a viable industry in Sussex County. The Sussex County Farm & Horse Show Association’s Agriculture Division works hard to showcase Agriculture in all its forms.
For any Fair questions, contact The Fairgrounds office at 973-948-5500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline to apply is April 15th. Click here to download a printable application form (pdf).