Harvest Market is a proud supporter of Coverdale Farm Preserve and its parent organization, the Delaware Nature Society.
On a warm and overcast day in August, a handful of Harvest Market staff members were welcomed for a tour of Coverdale Farm Preserve and Farm Market, a 10 minute drive through the Red Clay Creek watershed to Greenville, Delaware. We were shown the range of thoughtful operations at this Delaware Nature Society site, where we source eggs, produce, plant starters and Thanksgiving turkeys for Harvest Market.
Coverdale’s Manager and longtime Harvest Market customer, Michele Wales, provided a backdrop on the role of agriculture in our modern times. “We see the bigger picture. We’re owned by an environmental non-profit, and farming is one of the most destructive things to do to the environment.” Coverdale Farm is on a mission to change that reality and here’s how…
Preservation: First and Foremost
The Coverdale Farm Preserve is a 377-acre property in Greenville, comprised of 200 acres of nature preserve and a 177-acre working farm that showcases regenerative agriculture methods. The property has been a working farm for nearly 300 years and was generously donated to the Delaware Nature Society to continue sound stewardship for both natural and working lands.
The entire Preserve is carefully managed to ensure a thriving diversity of unique native plants and animals and to protect and improve water quality and reduce runoff.
Coverdale’s production Farm currently includes:
- 3 acres of intensive organic vegetable, herb, and flower production
- 55 acres of diversified pasture home to cows, sheep, goats, chickens, and seasonally, turkeys
- 30 Beehives managed by Walt Broughton and Sons of Swarmbustin’ Honey in West Grove, PA
Regenerative Agriculture at Coverdale
Healthy food, healthy communities, and a healthy environment are among the rights of all people. Regenerative Agriculture upholds these three entitlements while distinguishing itself as a method of farming that moves beyond simply sustainable.
Regenerative Agriculture (RA) is a knowledge-intensive, systems-based approach, grounded in ecological thinking. The farm is an ecosystem working with nature, not against it. RA diversifies its outcomes beyond economic gains and high yields to include the restoration of high-quality soil, water, air, and ecosystems, along with healthy animals and people. It is a place-based customized approach where the land leads.
Although not a “one-size-fits-all” tactic, most RA systems share key interlinked principles:
- Minimize soil disturbance and build soil health both below and above ground
- Maintain living roots year-round, keep soil covered with cover crops, green manures, perennials, and maintaining crop residues
- Reduce tillage frequency and depth
- Maximize crop diversity and on-farm biodiversity
- Integrate livestock employing intentional grazing
- Eliminate synthetic chemicals
Regenerative Agriculture provides an immediate best hope for a quick draw down of atmospheric carbon with effective transfer to lock it down deep underground. This is why many scientists, conservationists and organic farmers are promoting regenerative agriculture as one of the ways we can take action on the threat of climate change. From carbon sequestration, to building soil health, protecting water, and biodiversity, regenerative agriculture provides a common ground for agricultural and environmental action and activism around a shared objective to restore and protect our planet.
“We ask a lot of our soil for some crops… We need to conserve the life that creates soil.”
-Michele Wales, Coverdale Farm Manager
The Coverdale Farm Regenerative Agriculture Program will be accomplished in phases, which began in 2018 with the three-year Phase One, focused on investments to establish the system.
Key elements of Phase One include:
- Implement new biointensive organic method of vegetable production focused upon soil health, efficiency, nutrient dense product, high yields, year-round production
- Transform of 55-acres of conventionally farmed cropland into highly diverse pasture rich with warm and cool season grasses, forbs, legumes, and herbs intended to provide sustained high nutrition for livestock and attractive habitat for wildlife
- Implement rotational grazing of a small multi-species herd of cattle, sheep, and goats along with poultry using our site-developed movable “Turkey Tractors” and “Eggmobiles.”
- Training farmers in regenerative agriculture practices and expanding our network and partners in sharing knowledge on the benefits of these practices.
- Implement intentional grazing and seeding in pasture acreage employed to control invasive/noxious plant species, build soil health, provide year-round living root system, provide high quality of life for livestock.
- Conduct base-line farm research commenced with soil testing of vegetable production acreage and monitoring bird populations on grazing land
- Maintain living roots systems and covered soil using cover crops, green manures, and green chopping to increase soil quality, manage soil erosion, improve water retention, manage invasive weeds and diseases, increase native wildlife presence
- Streamline flow of food from field to customers with a co-joined propagation greenhouse, harvest distribution prep area and a small customer market all adjacent to the production gardens
- Provide educational experiences for all ages, connecting people to the source of their food, how its grown, while engaging in a dynamic outdoor classroom rooted in agriculture.
Coverdale Market is Open to All
The new Coverdale Market offers fresh choices for your table from May through November:
- Enjoy fresh Coverdale Farm products including “Rainbow” pastured eggs, a seasonal array of fresh vegetables, and pasture-raised turkeys for the Thanksgiving table, and Vegetable, Flower, Herb, and Fruit plants for your garden
- Sample a curated selection of local and regional products including Savory and Sweet Breads and treats; award-winning cheese, ice cream, yogurt, milk; Grass-fed beef; Spices, Oils, Ghee, Vinegars; Honey, Jams, Nut Butters, Maple Syrup; Cookbooks and a variety of Kitchen Tools and Supplies
- Fridays 2 pm – 7 pm | Saturdays 10 am – 5 pm |Sundays 11 am – 5 pm
- Special outdoor Winter Market offering Christmas Trees, a “holiday workshop” filled with gifts and decorations to make, along with local and regional gifts for purchase
Fun for the Whole Family
Weekends at Coverdale are ideal for families to unwind and reconnect to nature and farming–
- Hike the new pasture trail to enjoy the farmstead at your own pace
- See the farm through the eyes of a farmer Sundays at 1 pm on a Farmer’s Hike
- Share a story from the Farm Library
- Play outdoor games, make a clever craft, experience a special farm activity
- Saturdays 10 am – 5 pm |Sundays 11 am – 5 pm
A Living Classroom
The Farm’s living classroom provides enriching experiences that help connect nature, nutritious food, diverse communities, and a healthy environment. In a typical year, thousands of people visit Coverdale Farm Preserve from across the region to attend their:
- Summer Camps
- Adult workshops, cooking classes, guided nature hikes, year-round programs that capture the wonder of each season across the 377-acres for all ages
- Seasonal Events including Farm to Fork and Harvest Moon Festival
- Special group activities designed for you – Hayrides and Birthday Parties
We invite you to view the entire Coverdale Farm Preserve and Market Photo Album on our Facebook Page. All photos were taken by our amazing staff photographer and Grocery Manager, Heather Sachs.
Many thanks to our hosts and tour guides:
Michele Wales, Farm Manager and Site Director
Mindy Brown, Farmyard Coordinator
Patrick Eggleston, Market Garden Farmer
Logan McCabe, Assistant Market Garden Farmer