Delaware adds four families to honor roll of Century Farms

Staff Writer

DOVER, Del. (Nov. 4, 2014) — The families, owners of newly designated “Century Farms,” stepped next to the podium and accepted their awards one after the other inside the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village last Tuesday.
Their elected officials — invited state representatives and senators — did most of the talking.
“We keep asking them if they have a few words to say,” Ed Kee, Delaware’s secretary of agriculture, said of the recipients. “They just say ‘Thank you.’”
It was a fitting award ceremony for four Delaware whose farms have quietly and continuously operated for at least 100 years, establishing themselves as living examples of the state’s strong and humble agricultural heritage.
Including those honored at the ceremony, the state has inducted 129 farms into the Century Farms Program since it was created in 1987, according to a departmental statement. In total, they contribute about $1.3 billion to the state’s agricultural economy, the department said.
The four families and their farms are:
• The Malfitano family (Joseph M. Malfitano), which has owned a 56.5-acre farm near Greenwood since 1913. It produces vegetables, soybeans, fruit and corn.
• The Cook family (H. Wallace Cook Jr. and his wife), which has owned a 109-acre farm near Newark since 1855. It produces dairy, corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, beef and pork.
• The Peterson family (Charles, Andrew and Brian Peterson), which has owned a 31.5-acre farm near Bridgeville since 1909. It produces corn and soybeans.
• The Hudson family (Margaret, Jeffrey and Gregrey Hudson), which has owned a 300-acre farm near Millsboro since 1908. It produces corn, soybeans, wheat and poultry.
Charles Peterson, 67, said he hires a farmer to work his farm but doesn’t anticipate the land ever leaving his family.
“It’s the ideal place to raise grandkids,” he said after the ceremony. “It’s not going to leave.”
His grandson, Evan, 10, said he enjoys riding go-carts and hunting on the farm while his granddaughter, Alex, 12, plays with sheep.
On their 109-acre farm, Steve Cook, 44, said his father, H. Wallace Cook Jr., is engine that keeps the operation moving. Steve Cook teaches agriculture at Caesar Rodney High School in Camden and said the family farm has become surrounded with suburban development. He also said he doesn’t see the farm disappearing anytime soon.
“We have to be stewards and have a good relationship with our neighbors because they’re now our customers,” he said. “There’s so many of them around us. They appreciate the open space. They probably wouldn’t want to see our farm developed at this point.”
At the end of the ceremony, the  families were presented with certificates, pewter plates and large, yellow signs featuring the Century Farm logo to be posted at the farm.
“Display it with pride,” Kee said.