The Sussex County Farm Bureau honored Barbara Sapp of Milton and the Herbert Wright family of Delmar at the annual banquet held Oct. 5 at Memorial Fire Hall in Slaughter Beach.
Sapp received the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award and the Wrights’ children accepted the Farm Family of the Year Award for their parents, who were delayed in returning from a trip abroad.
“Herb Wright truly has farming and Sussex County in his blood,” said Guy Phillips, former Sussex County Farm Bureau president, who made the presentation.
Wright lives in the house he grew up in, on the farm founded by his grandfather in 1933. He has remodeled two more farmhouses on his land, now lovingly lived in by his children and grandchildren.
Wright earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Delaware, where he met a New Jersey girl, Kathy, whom he says he "rescued from city life" and successfully converted her to farm life. Married 40 years ago, they have four children: Dawn, Phillip, Jeffrey and Lisa, in addition to their spouses and 12 grandchildren. Jeffrey Wright followed in his dad’s footsteps to earn a plant science master’s degree from the University of Delaware.
Herbert and Jeffrey Wright partner in their farming operation, H and J Wright Family Farms. They farm more than 500 acres, growing corn, soybeans, watermelon and butternut squash. Turkeys have been grown on the Wright farm for more than 80 years and the whole family participates in the turkey dressing season.
Wright serves Delaware Farm Bureau roles at the county and state board level. He is an active member of Mt. Hermon United Methodist Church, served on the Delmar School Board for more than 10 years and is a member of the Mar-Del Watermelon Association. Years of Cub Scout and Girl Scout campfires, hayrides and pumpkin picking have been enjoyed on the Wright farm and Wright wagons have been transformed into homecoming floats and parade platforms for the local sports teams. In 2012, Wright was chosen as one of WBOC's "Honoring Delmarva Farmers" awardees.
Laura Hill, Delaware Farm Bureau first vice president, introduced Barbara Sapp, who grew up on a farm "on the other side of the tracks” in Harrington from her future husband, Richard.
Her parents had grown chickens, and Richard's parents had dairy cows. When they got married, they made a pact that they would have neither. They settled in Milton 60 years ago, in the house where Richard was born; it was his grandmother's home.
There, and on 2,000 acres of rented ground, they raised beef cattle and grew limas, peas, wheat, barley, rye, soybeans and corn. In recent years they’ve had the help of their son, Richard Jr., and grandson, Richard III, or "Trey."
Sapp has worked at a bank and at the local hospital and has been a substitute teacher, cafeteria worker and crop insurance adjuster.
She has served the Farm Bureau as chair of the Sussex County and the state Women’s Committee and as a director of both county and state boards. She is vice-chair of the Farm Bureau Food Booth Committee, serves on the Ag Literacy Committee, and is a past member of the Legislative Committee. She is a former member of the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission.
Sapp was one of the first two women to receive the Secretary's Award for Distinguished Service to Delaware Agriculture.
She is also known for her sweet potato pies, which she has been donating to Farm Bureau functions for decades. The pie baking dates back to the days when she used to haul lima beans to Saulsbury Brothers in Ridgely, Maryland, where sweet potato growers from Virginia always had a bucketful waiting for her. In return, she brought them pies. Her father-in-law also grew sweet potatoes, so "we had them all winter," she said.
Her pies have always been well appreciated by the recipients. A few years ago, Richard's won a pie as a door prize, and since his wife usually makes three pies at a time — that's what fits in her oven — he said he had one at home and challenged auctioneer Dave Wilson auction it off. Bidding was intense, mounting to $200. Then Wilson turned to the second higher bidder and said, “We have another pie. Both of you can have a pie at $200 each.” Proceeds went to the scholarship fund.
Members of the Sapp family were on hand for the award, including the Sapps’ first great-grandchild, two-week-old Payten Sapp.
In the Rate-of-Gain competition, for youth raising livestock for the Delaware State Fair, Sussex County winners were Thomas Warren, whose 4-H sheep gained 0.5 pounds per day, and Brock O’Day, whose 4-H goat gained 0.41 pounds per day. Parents of these youth, respectively, are Elizabeth and Tom Warren, of Georgetown, and Billy and Robin O’Day, of Seaford.