The Darling Family, Dar-View Farms
Watershed Agricultural Program Award Recipient, 2013
Award Purpose: This award publicly recognizes a regional farmer participating in the Watershed Agricultural Program for their achievements in sustainable agriculture, strong business contribution and clean water efforts.
The Darlings have a solid track record running their family-farm operation in Delancey since 1849. Dairy farmers for six generations, the 7th generation is just entering the ranks and many of the 4th generation are still going strong. Dar-View Farm in DeLancey has been milking Jerseys since the 1930’s. Tuberculosis wiped out that herd, but undeterred, the family went to Ohio and bought 24 cows and a bull and started their registered Jersey line. In the 1980s, the Darling’s updated the herd’s registration, tracing back the lineage to four cow families. In 1984, the family began showing their cows at the County Fair, which is now a yearly family event.
In 2010, Dar-View Farm purchased Ralph Hunt’s herd of 25 milking and 10 youngstock of Holsteins at Ralph’s retirement. Today, the family has 150 Jerseys and 30 Holsteins milking and 100 head Jersey-bred heifers and youngstock and another 35 Holstein-bred youngstock. The family farm currently operates with matriarch Ruth Darling, sons Jim and Russ, Russ’ wife Linda and their children: Brad, Amber, Charlie and Dawson. Brad and Charlie run the Dar-View maple business on the farm. Amber and husband Jason Mondore and their daughters Laney and Darbey round out the multi-generational farm family.
Dar-View Farm began with the Watershed Agricultural Program in 1992 and started planning around 1995. “We had really great planners to work with like Jerry LeClare and Julian Drelich. They were very helpful to us,” says Amber. “In 1997, we broke ground here with our first slurry store and alley scrapers in our freestall. We also built a coverall structure for all newborn calves up to 6 months of age that year. It seems to be ever couple years, we have gained new projects on our farm that we wouldn’t have been able to purchase on our own, from new spring development to tile drainage and strip cropping.”In 2009, the farm added a panel to the slurry store, refurbished the existing one, and added a manure truck and covered barnyard to improve farm operations. Future Dar-View Farm expansion includes changes to accommodate the growing herd of youngstock and milkers. “We’re planning to add a new calf barn, starting cover crops in the fall, adding more tiling and drainage work, and installing a new, larger silage pad,” adds Amber. “As we outgrow our farm operation, we continue to upgrade the current structures and equipment with the help of the Watershed Agricultural Program.” The farm hosts many farm tours over the years, sharing their knowledge, experience and farm operation with others. Jim also serves on the County Committee for the USDA Farm Service Agency.
As a Program participant just 2.5 miles from the Pepacton Reservoir, Dar-View Farm has benefitted from best management practices made possible with the help of the Council. “The only hurdles we encountered was to get our first plans going on what we wanted and underway,” notes Amber. “Other than that, it has been a great relationship all the way around. We love farming because it’s a great way to raise your family and learn a lifestyle of good work ethics and responsibility. It’s something that’s in your blood. There’s no real way to explain it.”