Contributed photo

Ed Milk and his horse are seen on his Delaware County farm.

Looking Back 5/17

After a harsh winter, spring is finally upon us, and local farms will soon boast lush fields of crops.

However, farming was once a much more prevalent practice in the Upper Delaware Valley. In Delaware and Sullivan Counties combined, there were an estimated 8,900 farms in 1910, making today’s statistic of fewer than 1,200 seem miniscule.

At their height, area farmers exported crops across the world. Milk was collected by local creameries and sent to New York City. During a cauliflower boom in 1943, over 200 crates of the vegetable were sent to the city each day. Apples, another major crop grown in the 20th century, were dried and shipped to South Africa during the Boer War. Brandy was produced in France with peels and cores.

Pastoral farming was also an integral part of Sullivan County culture. In 1910, 85% of New York farms had dairy cattle and 86.5% had horses. Although the dairy cow population today has decreased to about one-fifth of the number in 1910, milk production has more than doubled due to more efficient equipment and techniques.

Today, many in our area fondly remember a time in which sprawling farms dominated the region.

The annual meeting of the Basket Historical Society will be held on Saturday, May 26 at 10:30 a.m. All are welcome to attend. If you are interested and wish to find out more information contact us at baskethistsociety@gmail.com.

 

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