Excellence in agriculture takes time, patience, experience and a lot of elbow grease. In honor of this great work, several farming leaders were honored at the Delaware Farm Bureau’s annual Celebration of Harvest Banquet on Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Modern Maturity Center in Dover. Nearly 200 guests attended the event.

Led by DEFB President Bill Powers and Master of Ceremonies Mark Isaacs, the evening event featured a meal catered by the Modern Maturity Center, music by Captain Mike, live and silent auctions supporting the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and DEFB Foundation, and many awards honoring the dedication of DEFB members and supporters.

American Farm Bureau Federation’s Vice President of Public Policy Sam Kieffer gave the keynote address to attendees and highlighted the importance of advocacy work by Farm Bureau members all over the country.

The Cartanza Family, winner of the 2023 Farm Family of the Year

Emphasizing the importance of not just advocacy at the state and national levels, but between neighbors, as well, Kieffer said that sharing stories is what helps the Farm Bureau continue to thrive.

“I cannot tell your story. Don Clifton (DEFB executive director) cannot tell your story the way you can. I ask you to keep showing up when you can. It is important. It matters. And what also matters is visiting with your friends and neighbors and telling them what is all about,” Kieffer said.

Molly Lynch, chair of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee started off the award portion of the banquet by honoring the committee’s supporter and member of the year. 

Don Jackson accepted the 2023 Supporter of the Year Award on behalf of Ag Industrial. Casey Collier received the 2023 Member of the Year Award. 

Lynch said YF&R members and supporters alike are “hard working agriculture professionals and advocates.” She said their dedication to the Farm Bureau is often done simultaneously while working full-time jobs, raising families, offering a supportive presence to the community and creating a thriving agriculture business of their own.

DEFB President Bill Powers and Donna King of King Crop Insurance in Georgetown, were next to the podium to announce the state winner for the Distinguished Service to Ag award for 2023 – Jackie King. 

Donna King proudly detailed how her little sister, Jackie King, took up the farming cause with the guidance of their mother after their father passed away, leading her to a busy insurance career focused on agriculture. 

Over the years, she has worked closely with 4-H and FFA groups, helping shape the next generation of agriculture. She has also advocated for farmers both in Delaware and nationally. 

“She knows like we do that it’s very important to have a voice in every room,” Donna King said of her sister’s involvement in the industry.

Recently, Jackie and Donna teamed up with their sisters Nancy and Bonny to create the King Foundation which preserves farming stories through audio and visual recordings. 

“This award is an honor to me and I really appreciate it. I really want to say that the distinguished people are the people in this room,” Jackie King said with a nod to banquet attendees. 

Former Kent County Farm Bureau President Jacob Urian was invited to the podium next to honor the statewide Farm Family of the Year awardee for 2023 – Paul Cartanza Sr. 

“I just want to thank you very much for this award. It’s been a long time. My father started farming back in the ‘50s and now I’m able to move on to another adventure. I’m blessed to be able to do the things I can do,” Cartanza said. “I love my family and I’m just proud that I have a good family and kids that want to work on the farm.”

Along with his wife Jan, Cartanza now owns and operates Lazy Day Farms in Dover and is DEFB’s second vice president. 

Lazy Day Farms currently farms 1,200 acres, growing corn, soybeans and wheat, and processing vegetables. In 2017, they added a grain elevator. Currently, they are working with third and fourth generation farmers of Shadybrook Farms, Paul Jr. and granddaughter Taylor, to dry and store grains.

The Cartanza’s also collaborate with researchers from the University of Delaware so they can analyze their soil to identify salinity concerns as a result of rising sea levels. 

Master of Ceremonies Mark Isaacs announced the statewide winner of the new Young Farm Family Achievement: Excellence in Agriculture Award – the Theodore “Teddy” Bobola family.

“This couple has had a long tenure in the agricultural field, even prior to their marriage,” Isaacs told attendees.

He went on to tell how both Teddy and Rebecca Bobola participated in the FFA growing up, along with other activities. Now, they are active Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee members within the Delaware Farm Bureau and both served in leadership roles during their tenure. They are also active members of their church and community. 

Teddy Bobola holds a degree in agricultural business and works full-time on the family farm west of Dover where they have five chicken houses and more than 1,500 acres of farmland. 

Rebecca Bobola has a degree in fisheries and wildlife management and works full-time as an environmental scientist for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control in the Division of Water, Wetlands and Subaqueous Section while also working around the farm with the family.

“It’s just an honor. Thank you for this award. It’s a family effort just to get my kids here,” Teddy Bobola said with a chuckle. “It just makes me think of each generation. I thank my parents for the opportunities we’ve had.”

For more information on each awardee or the Delaware Farm Bureau, visit www.defb.org.