Bayhealth Sussex Campus in Milford is getting a new neighbor on Route 1: a farm and nursery.
Tony Condurso has owned that small piece of farmland for more than 20 years, and it’s becoming East Gate Farm and Nursery.
It won’t be a stretch for Condurso. His family owned a farm in New Jersey, so he’s been in the agricultural business his entire life.
“Howard Webb has used this field for corn and beans,” Condurso said. “He did a great job keeping the soil in good shape for me but I’ve never tried growing anything else here. I know the soil is sandy which means we may need to start things in the ground and then transfer them to pots. I am just not real sure yet what we are doing.”
As a test to see how area residents would respond, Condurso and his wife, Helene, set up a small stand where they offered some gourds and ornamental squash they had grown.
He said people have stopped and asked for produce, mums and other items, and he’s trying to get a feel for what the market wants.
The land has no water or power, so that makes it difficult to grow much on the land yet.
“I have grown produce and vegetables before,” Condurso said. “I have the well installation scheduled and am working with Delmarva Power to get some electric here.”
He plans to build two greenhouses about 1,000 feet away from the road.
“That way we have plenty of room to grow but still get the visibility from Route 1,” he said. “Right now, it is my wife and I, but I think my daughter (Tina) will be joining us eventually.”
Condurso retired to Delaware, and joked that retirement was simply not working for him and he wanted to find something to do.
“We were out here working, and my granddaughter said, ‘Aren’t you guys too old for this?’” Condurso joked. “I told her, well, yes, we were, but we just felt like we wanted to do something.
“I can tell you just with the people who have stopped by, I think there will be enough people who will appreciate this type of market in this area.”
Although he would like to offer flowers and produce in the spring, Condurso pointed out that the days and months are flying by.
That means he may not get the seedlings for all that he wants to sell into pots or in the ground in time for a spring market.
“We are starting from zero,” Condurso said. “We are about three-quarters of the way from having power and water. I also have a crew ready to come start one of the greenhouses.
“Once all that is complete, I will have a better idea of what we will be able to offer in the spring.”