HONESDALE—Farmers and agricultural enthusiasts of all kinds gathered at Honesdale High School Monday afternoon for the 41st annual Ag Day.
Among the crowds gathered, Secretary Russell Redding of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) was present along with Doug Wolfgang, PDA's Director of the Bureau of Farmland Preservation, to present a Centennial Farm Award to third-generation farmers David and Peggy Soden.
The Soden's 125-acre farm near Starrucca Borough was purchased on March 21st, 1911 by David's grandfather, James Soden.
The farm raised dairy cattle at the time of purchase, and continued to do so until 2012 when it switched to the care and sale of beef cattle.
After its initial purchase, the farm was passed to second-generation farmers, George and Marie Soden on July 11, 1949 and finally to David and Peggy on January 1, 1978.
David graciously thanked his siblings and children, all of which were in attendance for the award receipt Monday afternoon, for all the help they've given to the farm in his 42 years of ownership.
Speaking of his children, David added, “They both have a lot of interest on the farm. They help ya out and without them, it would not be easy.”
He is hopeful they and their children after them will continue to maintain and utilize the farm for yet another hundred years.
Wolfgang noted there are 31 century farms in Wayne County.
He later added of a centennial or bicentennial farm award, “It showcases the strength and the durability of the Pennsylvania farm family. Pennsylvania has a rich agricultural heritage and that's evident throughout the state.”
Secretary Redding stated centennial farm awards are “a special moment, because you realize that what's happened over the last hundred years is amazing.”
Redding noted there are many decisions made every day on a farm, all of which have to be made with great care to ensure the longevity of a farm.
Ag day at a glance
Meandering the various events at the 41st annual Ag Day, Secretary Redding expressed great enthusiasm for Wayne County's ag industry.
“We have been amazed at what Wayne County has done with their Wayne Tomorrow and the economic development to Honesdale....with the rejuvenation of ag science and the investment being made in the Honesdale FFA and Ag Science program,” said Redding.
The secretary later noted “We are always honored to come back here. We've been here several times and I have used my experiences in Wayne County across the state of Pennsylvania as both a story, but also a great demonstration of what happens when you have a partnership with good people.”
Greeting Ag Day attendees outside the HHS auditorium, the 4-H Science of Ag Team had a survey for their developing project regarding farmer safety.
Eoghan Murphey explained the team identified farmer safety as a concern due to limited cell phone and internet service in many areas of the county making communication difficult if the farmer is injured in such a location.
The team is looking to develop a system akin to Life-Alert to get an emergency signal out, if needed.
Clara Murphey noted, “We're using the survey to find out what kind of people might want to use this and what they would use it for.”
Catching up with Honesdale FFA inside the gym, member Nick Bochnovich and State Officers, Abigail Yoder and Jenna Harnish, explained the group received five new FFA jackets sponsored by the Wayne/Pike Farm Bureau and the Susquehanna Farm Bureau.
Wayne County Dairy Princess Allison Hardler noted the court is currently seeking applicants to be the next Dairy Princess.
Hardler explained princess applicants must be between 16 and 24 years old and be the daughter of someone in the dairy industry.
“However, if you have no dairy background, you can still run for the princess, but you must be an ambassador for at least one year before that can happen,” said Hardler.
Those interested can message “Wayne County Dairy Promotion” on Facebook.
Hardler noted the program “has taught me leadership, social skills...it's been one of the most eye-opening experiences you could possibly have.”
Pennsylvania Alternate Maple Ambassador Katie Nebzydoski announced the upcoming Northeastern Pennsylvania Maple Producers Association's upcoming Maple Tour is scheduled for March 16 and 17.
“It is a great opportunity to see small-scale maple production to large-scale maple production,” she noted.
Nebzydoski later explained “I think people need to start understanding where Pennsylvania Maple Syrup comes from.”
Stating Pennsylvania maple syrup “is good for you,” Nebzydoski added, “It's 100 percent pure. There's no sugars added. And it's very good for our local economy here.”