Story Hill Farm

You could call Helen E. Raleigh the Joan of Arc of pollination in Sussex County. She clearly is on a mission starting with an interest in endangered Monarch butterflies and quickly moving on to the impact of habitat loss on native plants and pollinators in general. This ball of energy, her husband Steve and farmhand Derek Kuebeck run Story Hill Farm in Frankford, DE, which they purchased in 2019. In just three years, they have created a mesmerizing world of flora and fauna that would make Mother Nature proud.   

“We can all plant for pollinators and help save the planet,” she told a group from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute recently, decked out in a snappy cowboy hat and well-worn cowboy boots. And in the next breath, she advises “do your greatest good, not your least harm.”  

Raleigh is a passionate advocate for regenerative agriculture, an alternative means of producing food that may have lower—or even net positive—environmental and/or social impact, according to advocates. It is a system of farming principles and practices that seeks to rehabilitate and enhance the entire ecosystem of a farm. On a broader scale, for Delmarva, it is a holistic approach to farming that is key to restoring our environment and saving the Bay. 

A slightly austere duo of gargoyles greets you as you enter through the entrance gate but do not be deterred.  

The inviting Story Hill farm acreage is divided into sections dedicated to pollinators – a native perennial meadow, a wildflower meadow and a two-acre plot consisting mainly native grasses and flowering perennials that are rotationally grazed by Randall cattle, a rare heritage breed with unusual markings.   

Cows are not the only animals living at Story Hill Farm. There, you can “meet” their horse Wally, who is always grateful for a carrot or two, miniature donkeys Thelma and Louis (obviously one is male), very friendly goats Simon and Alvin, who are prone to doing quick little dances on their hind hoofs, and a variety of heirloom chickens, including Australorps, Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds. 

The selection of animals on the farm was very deliberate. For example, the chickens are pasture raised, so the breeds are all excellent foragers and best known for laying vast quantities of eggs. Randall cattle are on the Livestock Conservancy’s list of endangered heritage breeds there are less than 1200 of them left, recovering from a small herd of 14 in the 1980’s. They are a smaller breed but their beef is ranked high in terms of flavor and quality and can also be milked or used for oxen. 

But, back to the flora for a minute. One of the more intriguing gardens is devoted to edible herbs and flowers. Who knew one could eat violas, pansies, pot marigolds (calendula) along with dill, basil and oregano? While these flowers provide color to a garden not all varieties are edible, so it is best to do some research.  

A small retail store connected to the barn sells gourmet and organic products from local vendors including jams, relishes, a quirky variety of pickles as well as their own handmade Story Hill Farm peanut butter plus home-made Root Beer, Birch Beer Sarsaparilla and Cream Soda. Look for a remodeled horse trailer if you attend the Bethany Farmer’s Market on Sundays for the products  

Story Hill Farm is a delightful option for community group or family visits. There is a nominal fee for guided tours. Self-guided tours are free, but it is necessary to call in advance for either. Contact information is available by calling 302-725-8200 or 302-493-8200 or review the farm website and Facebook page.  

By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist

Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.  


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