History of the Farm

William Penn Land Grant

Historic Penn Farm was originally included in the William Penn Land Grant of 1704.  It was the document that granted “the three lower counties” to the new colony of Delaware. New Castle was the most prosperous and influential city in this new colony.  The farm was one of eleven farms that were part of a thousand acres held “in common” for the citizens of New Castle to be used for logging and for grazing animals.


Since 1764, the farm has been under the care of the Trustees of the New Castle Common, the governing body that manages the common land of New Castle.  The farm has been leased by a series of farming families, who worked the land, and made improvements to the property. These tenants have been the stewards of Historic Penn Farm.

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1799 to 1826

John Crow builds functioning farm

The first tenant of the farm was John Crow. Under Crow’s tenancy from 1799 to 1826, he had furnished the property with apple and peach orchards, hedges, two corn cribs, a stable, a two-story frame house, and a small kitchen.

Such updates meant that in the future, the farm could be subleased for an increasingly high sum. The farm maintained its operations as a tenant farm with many successive tenants. It was used to grow crops such as hay, wheat, oats, corn, and potatoes. Farmers also raised livestock such as cattle, pigs, and chicken.

Old boot recovered in the Historic Penn Farm fields


Delaware Greenways Becomes 22nd Tenant

In 2011, the Trustees entered into an agreement with Delaware Greenways to serve as tenant of the farm with the goal to repurpose the farm to serve the good of the community.

As the twenty-second tenant (overseen by the Trustees of New Castle Common) Delaware Greenways is committed to building on William Penn’s legacy in a way that addresses current societal needs.   The vision is to create a sustainable, bio-diverse, productive farm that inspires and educates the community towards healthier lifestyles, demonstrates good environmental stewardship through best practices, and provides a unique gathering place for community events.

Today on the Farm

Education programs, locally grown produce, events, and facility rentals have given Historic Penn Farm a vibrant new life.

Historic Penn Farm is a beautiful rustic wedding venue in New Castle, Delaware

Students are growing crops for the Farm to School Program

Fundraiser at the Barn