​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Contact Information

Program Director
Harrison Palmer 

Phone: 410-841-5882

Email: harrisonb.palmer@maryland.gov

50 Harry S. Truman Pkwy
Annapolis, MD 21401


Governor's Agriculture Hall of Fame

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Governor's Agriculture Hall of Fame

The Governor's Agriculture Hall of Fame is the state's most prestigious agriculture award, recognizing farm families with high standards of achievement and commitment to the industry and their communities.

Governor's Agriculture Hall of Fame Members

(scroll down for f​amily descriptions)

2023- The Willard Family, Montgomery County 

2022- The Fritz Family, Carroll County

2021- The Eck Family, Queen Anne's County

2020 – The Cross Family, Prince George's County

2019 – The Rhodes Family, Queen Anne's The Richardson Family, Worcester County

2018 – The Linthicum Family, Montgomery 2017 – The Bowling Family, Charles County

2016 – The Milburn Family, Cecil County

2015 – The Swann Family, Calvert County

2014 – The Councell Family, Talbot County

2013 – Richard & Jan Edwards, Caroline County

2012 – The Edwin Fry Family, Kent County

2011 – The Stabler Brothers, Montgomery County

2010 – The Kohl Family, Kent Joseph Layton, Jr., & Family, Dorchester County

2009 – John A. Prouty & Family, Calvert Mehrle H. & Thelma Ramsburg Jr., Frederick County

2008 – The Harry Black Family, Frederick Griffith Family, Anne Arundel County

2007 – Patrick Family, Howard Schmidt Family, Queen Anne's County

2006 – Donald Dell Family, Carroll Malkus Family, Dorchester County

2005 – The Hutchison Family, Talbot County

2004 – William Anderson Family, Somerset Wheatley Neal Family, Caroline County

2003 – Marion Lee Holland Family, Worcester John H. Murray Family, Somerset County

2002 – William & Jean Knill, Carroll Russell & Shirley Watson, Prince George's County

2001 – Charles & Lorraine Mason, Garrett William & Patsy Guy, Wicomico Grove & Jack Miller, Cecil County

2000 – Conrad & Patricia Langenfelder, Kent Lewis & Ginny Riley, Wicomico County

1999 – James & Cassandra Briscoe, Calvert John & Mary Briscoe, Calvert Joe Schwartzbeck Family, Carroll 1998 – Walton Mason Family, Cecil John & Betty Herbst, Washington County

1997 – W. Blan & Frances Harcum, Wicomico Richard & Harriett Holloway, Harford Henry & Barbara Holloway, Harford Wilbert & Louise Paul, Allegany County

2023: The Willard Family 

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Family Name: The Willard Family 

In 1871, Dewalt J. Willard and Charles F. M. Willard purchased 675.5 acres near the Potomac River in Poolesville, marking the beginning of a family legacy that spans more than 150 years. Through diversification and proximity to the C&O Canal, the Willard family's original farm, purchased for $10,581, remains intact today. 
Harry Willard's forward-thinking in 1905 birthed a custom farming operation that thrived through various ventures, from a John Deere Dealership to a feed mill. Despite the Great Depression, the Willard farm endured, and subsequent generations actively participated. Embracing transformative technologies in the mid-1960s, the Willard family adopted the "no-till planter" and paraquat early on, positioning themselves at the forefront of innovation. Grass waterways, field edge filter strips, and cover crops reflect their commitment to environmental stewardship. 

In 2021, Willard Farms achieved the National First Place Award in the dryland soft red winter wheat category, with a remarkable yield of 141.41 dry bushels per acre. Established in 1970, Willard Agri-Service pioneered fluid fertilizer, offering efficient solutions to plant fertility needs. 

Today, the company stands as a beacon of precision agriculture, offering farmers access to the HighQ decision support system. Individual members of the Willard family and Willard Agri-Service have garnered numerous accolades, including Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer, Maryland Grain Producers Man of the Year, and the Agricultural Retailers Association Lifetime Achievement Award. The Willard farming operation, initiated in 1871, remains vibrant today under the leadership of Scot Poffenberger, Billy Willard Jr., and Joe Sayer, with approximately 900 acres of corn, 600 acres of full-season beans, 400 acres of sorghum, and 600 acres of wheat. 
The Willard Family expresses gratitude to its customers and dedicated employees for their integral role in the enduring success of the family legacy.

Quotes from the Nominators:
“The Willard Family have a long and storied history of conservation excellence and serve as exemplary stewards of the lands that they both own and operate across the region. They are both initiators and innovators when it comes to adopting new technologies and practices that help to promote the conservation of soil and water resources while balancing the environmental benefits with the economic viability of their farming enterprises”, said District Manager for the Montgomery Soil Conservation District John Zawitoski. “The District congratulates the Willard Family for being recognized for this prestigious honor as this year’s Governor’s Agricultural Hall of Fame inductee.”

“We are excited to be part of honoring the Willard family for their amazing accomplishments and life-long service to Maryland agriculture,” said Executive Director of the Maryland Agriculture Council Susan Summers. “They truly deserve this prestigious award, and we are happy to host this event to highlight such an amazing family who has transformed the agricultural industry.”

Ceremony date: 2/1/2024

2022: The Fritz Farm, LLC 

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Family Name: The Fritz Family

In 1912, Charles and Carrie Fritz purchased 90 acres of farmland and a large farmhouse in the beautiful Wakefield Valley, just outside of New Windsor in Carroll County. It was a dream for the couple, who had been tenant farmers for years. Six generations and 110 years later, the same farmhouse remains a homebase for their descendants. The current owners of the farm operation, which is now 480 acres in size, is the Fritz Family, LLC. The LLC members are Daniel Fritz and his two grown children, Jeffrey and Jessica.  Jeffrey and his wife Diana have three daughters - Emily, Ella and Addison. Jessica and her husband Jeff have two sons - Sawyer and Cooper.

Over the years, the family has seen good times and bad, scarcity and abundance. Through it all, the family's passion for farming has never waned. The farm was a dairy farm for 104 years and it was still profitable in 2016 when the decision was made to stop the milking operation. The workload of milking cows and the drop in milk prices contributed to the decision. Today, the farm has a small beef operation, but is mainly a crop farm that grows wheat, barley, soybeans, corn, hay and straw. Currently, the farm is 100 percent no till and has been for over 15 years. The family manages the fields using a software application and uses Global Positioning System (GPS) for accurate applications of chemicals and fertilizers.

The Fritz family has always been involved in community and agricultural organizations. Daniel's brother George was a member of the Carroll County Agriculture Center and the Carroll County Soil Conservation Board, as well as the Southern States Board of Directors. Daniel was a leader for the following organizations: the Carroll County Holstein Club, the Carroll County Farm Bureau, and the Dairy Herd Improvement Association.  Daniel and Jeffrey are involved with the New Windsor Volunteer Fire Department, as well. And the youngest generation are in Carroll County 4 -H, where they exhibit cows, swine, and lambs.

Quote from the Nominator:
“For more than 110 years, six generations of the Fritz Family have been cornerstones in Carroll County agriculture. They've devoted countless hours to agriculture advocacy, donating their time to Extension, Farm Bureau, 4-H, various dairy organizations, and other agriculture related organizations all while maintaining an innovative, fiscally responsible, sustainable, and environmentally sound family farm. Formerly a dairy farm and currently primarily a crop farm, they work closely with Extension, the Soil Conservation District and NRCS. They participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program and Cover Crop Programs and have been 100 percent no till for over 15 years, beginning with true horse drawn power to today managing crops with GPS and drone technology. We are very honored that the Fritz Family represents Carroll County and to have them inducted into the Governor's Agriculture Hall of Fame" – Bryan Butler, Principal Agent Agriculture and Food Systems Carroll County Extension.​March 7, 2022

Video Link​   

Ceremony Date: 2/2/2023

​2021: The Eck Family

The Eck Family

Family Name: The Eck Family

The Eck family emigrated to Baltimore from Germany in the mid-1800s. Elmer T. Eck and Sons was established in 1952 when the family purchased 750 acres of land in Queen Anne’s County. Carl Eck and his wife, Doris, worked with his sister, Dorothy Eck Higgs, and her husband, William Jennings Higgs, to milk holsteins and grow row crops. By 1977, Carl and Doris’ son, Mark, began contributing to the farm operation. As a sophomore in high school, Mark built his first chicken house and share-cropped 20 acres. Since then, Mark has gone on to purchase eight farms in Ingleside, expanding his family’s operation and maintaining a strong commitment to the community.

Mark and Vicky Eck own and operate MAE-VUE Farms where they farm 1,500 acres of crops and raise large broiler chickens in seven barns. Their oldest son, Alan, and grandson, Easton, have expanded the family operation to include another 430 acres of crops; production of 715,000 large broiler chickens; 1,800 all-natural, heritage market hogs; a commercial cow-finish beef operation; and a straw and hay business. The Eck’s daughter, Jenell Eck McHenry, lives on a grain and beef farm in Kennedyville with her husband, Joey, and their son, Lee. Beyond the farm, Jenell works for Thompson Ag Consulting, where she is a staunch advocate for the state’s farm community. Mark and Vicky’s son Kenny lives in Austin, Texas, where he owns and manages a healthcare data management company.

Throughout the years, the Eck family has been an outstanding example of the dedication and commitment that farmers have to the environment and their communities. The family works closely with Queen Anne’s Soil Conservation District to install various on-farm best management practices that are designed to protect and preserve natural resources. Additionally, the Eck family is heavily involved with various agricultural organizations in Maryland including 4-H, FFA, and the Farm Bureau.

Video Link

Ceremony Date: 3/3/22

February 4, 2021

2020: The Cross Family

The Cross Family

Family Name: The Cross Family

The Cross Family has been farming in Prince George’s County since John and Elizabeth Cross moved to North Keys in the mid 1800s, where they raised their 11 children. The Cross’ grew tobacco and served as the local market for other growers in the area. The Cross brothers also operated a small feed and fertilizer store that would later become a Southern States Cooperative franchise location, giving them the ability to expand their market and serve a wider range of Maryland farmers. In addition to their tobacco and feed businesses, the Cross’ grew a variety of field crops and raised beef cattle and chickens. As their operation continued to grow, the family decided to incorporate the family business in 1986, making Sandra Cross the president and 100% stockholder of R&D Cross, Inc. 

In recent years, the family made the decision to transition away from growing tobacco, instead using those fields for corn and soybeans in rotation with cover crops of hay, which are sold as feed at the family’s store. The embrace of cover crops is a great example of the family’s commitment to conservation practices. The Cross family also hosts an annual public education dinner event on their farm that emphasizes various agricultural topics, including chemical and fertilizer use, equine updates, safety practices, and information on agricultural products. Their efforts to embrace conservation practices and educate the public earned them the honor of being named the Prince George’s Soil Conservation District’s Cooperator of the Year in 2009. 

As an essential business, R&D Cross, Inc. has kept their operations running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with stringent safety measures in place to protect their workers and customers. With curbside pickup and expanded delivery options, their store has been able to continue providing critical supplies to farmers, gardeners, and animal owners during these unprecedented times.

Off the farm, the family is also very active in their local community, playing various roles supporting 4-H groups, scouts, and little league sports teams. Sandra has taken on an active leadership role in the family’s church, where she is celebrating 60 years of volunteer service as the organist and choir director. The Cross family is a great example of the kind of commitment and service that makes agriculture Maryland’s top industry. 

Video Link

Ceremony Date (Virtual): 2/4/21

February 6, 2020

Governor Hogan Inducts Farm Families into Agriculture Hall of Fame

Governor Hogan Inducts Farm Families into Agriculture Hall of Fame

Families from Queen Anne's, Worcester Counties Receive State’s Most Prestigious Agriculture Award

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Governor Larry Hogan and Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder today celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Taste of Maryland Agriculture event by inducting the Rhodes family of Queen Anne’s County and the Richardson family of Worcester County into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame. Temple and Pat Rhodes and Roger and Fay Richardson accepted the awards in front of more than 700 agricultural leaders and legislators from across the state at Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie.

“Agriculture continues to be our state’s leading industry, and I want everyone to know that your commitment to our communities, our state, and our thriving agriculture industry does not go unnoticed, ” said Governor Hogan. “Congratulations to all of tonight’s recipients and honorees and congratulations to the Maryland Agriculture Council on 50 successful years of hosting this event.”

Sponsored by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame was created in 1991 by then Governor William Donald Schaefer to honor agricultural leaders who exemplify high standards of achievement and commitment to the industry and their communities. Nominations are accepted at local University of Maryland Extension offices. 

“I am honored to join Governor Hogan and Maryland’s agricultural leaders tonight as we celebrate the Rhodes and Richardson families,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “These two families are outstanding examples of Maryland agriculture’s leadership and commitment to implementing conservation practices while maintaining successful farm operations. Congratulations to this year’s inductees on this well-deserved recognition and thank you for all you have done for Maryland agriculture.”

The Rhodes and Richardson families are the 51st and 52nd inductees in the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame. More information on each hall of fame family is available on the department’s website.

About the Rhodes Family

Pat and Temple Rhodes began their family farm operation in 1959 on rented ground in Easton. In 1961, the Rhodes purchased their first farm, Chestnut Vale, in Centreville. Over the next several years, Chestnut Vale Farm became home to Pat and Temple’s children: Jenny, Betsy, Susan, Carole, and Temple, Jr. The family began with a dairy herd and transitioned to a cow-calf operation in 1968, raising nearly 200 head of angus cattle per year. Throughout his decades of farming, Temple Rhodes remains committed to conservation and has embraced the use of technology and other best management practices to maintain a profitable, environmentally-sound operation.

Pat Rhodes has been involved with the local 4-H club since her children were young, and continues to be an ardent supporter of University of Maryland Extension programs. The Rhodes family is a fixture in the Queen Anne’s County agriculture community, from offering up their land and equipment to support the county fair and other events at the county’s nearby 4-H Park, to their involvement at Our Mother of Sorrows Church in Centreville. The Rhodes’ legacy is one of leadership and commitment that continues with their children and grandchildren, and has left a lasting impact on Maryland agriculture.

A brief slideshow and biography of the Rhodes family are available online.

About the Richardson Family

Roger Richardson and his wife Fay have farms in Worcester, Wicomico, and Somerset counties. Richardson Farm dates back to 1767. Roger currently operates the farm with his daughter, grandson, and great-grandson, while Fay has been instrumental in the continued growth and diversification of the family farm business. The multi-generational farm family grows corn, soybeans, and wheat. In 1980, the Richardsons diversified their operation by starting a private trucking company dedicated to the transportation of agricultural products. In addition to precision farming techniques, the Richardsons have adopted both conservation and no-till practices to manage nutrients and meet soil and water conservation goals. 

Off the farm, Roger Richardson’s legacy leaves a profound, lasting impact on the state’s farming community. In the late 1970s, Roger was one of 14 men appointed by then Governor Marvin Mandel to create the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Thirty-five years later, then Governor Martin O’Malley appointed Mr. Richardson to serve as Maryland’s Secretary of Agriculture, overseeing the agency he helped create. In addition to his involvement with the department, Roger has held several leadership positions with local, state, and national organizations, including: the Agricultural Stewardship Commission, the Maryland Center for Agro-Ecology, and stints as president and vice-president of the National Association of Farmer Elected Committees. With decades of knowledge and experience, Roger and Fay Richardson continue to support and advocate for farmers on the Lower Eastern Shore, the State of Maryland, and beyond.

A brief slideshow and biography of the Richardson family are available online.

A complete list of Hall of Fame honorees is available online.

Photos will be made available on the department’s Flickr following the Taste of Maryland Agriculture event.

Quotes from the Nominators

“Over the last 60 years, the Rhodes Family and their children have been leaders in Queen Anne’s County agriculture. They’ve devoted countless hours to agriculture advocacy, donating their time to Extension, Farm Bureau, 4-H, and other agriculture related organizations all while maintaining a fiscally responsible, sustainable, and environmentally sound family farm. We are very honored that the Rhodes Family represents Queen Anne’s County and to have them inducted into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame” – Paul Rickert, Area Extension Director-Upper Shore Cluster, University of Maryland Extension

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Follow Maryland Department of Agriculture on Twitter @MdAgDept

2019: The Richardson Family

The Richardson Family

Family name: The Richardson Family

Roger Richardson and his wife Fay have farms in Worcester, Wicomico, and Somerset counties. Richardson Farm dates back to 1767. Roger currently operates the farm with his daughter, grandson, and great-grandson, while Fay has been instrumental in the continued growth and diversification of the family farm business. The multi-generational farm family grows corn, soybeans, and wheat. In 1980, the Richardsons diversified their operation by starting a private trucking company dedicated to the transportation of agricultural products. In addition to precision farming techniques, the Richardsons have adopted both conservation and no-till practices to manage nutrients and meet soil and water conservation goals. 

Off the farm, Roger Richardson’s legacy leaves a profound, lasting impact on the state’s farming community. In the late 1970s, Roger was one of 14 men appointed by then Governor Marvin Mandel to create the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Thirty-five years later, then Governor Martin O’Malley appointed Mr. Richardson to serve as Maryland’s Secretary of Agriculture, overseeing the agency he helped create. In addition to his involvement with the department, Roger has held several leadership positions with local, state, and national organizations, including: the Agricultural Stewardship Commission, the Maryland Center for Agro-Ecology, and stints as president and vice-president of the National Association of Farmer Elected Committees. With decades of knowledge and experience, Roger and Fay Richardson continue to support and advocate for farmers on the Lower Eastern Shore, the State of Maryland, and beyond.

Video Link

Ceremony Date: 2/6/20

2019: The Rhodes Family

The Rhodes Family

Family Name: The Rhodes Family

Pat and Temple Rhodes began their family farm operation in 1959 on rented ground in Easton. In 1961, the Rhodes purchased their first farm, Chestnut Vale, in Centreville. Over the next several years, Chestnut Vale Farm became home to Pat and Temple’s children: Jenny, Betsy, Susan, Carole, and Temple, Jr. The family began with a dairy herd and transitioned to a cow calf operation in 1968, raising nearly 200 head of angus cattle per year. Throughout his decades of farming, Temple Rhodes remains committed to conservation and has embraced the use of technology and other best management practices to maintain a profitable, environmentally-sound operation.

Pat Rhodes has been involved with the local 4-H club since her children were young, and continues to be an ardent supporter of University of Maryland Extension programs. The Rhodes family is a fixture in the Queen Anne’s County agriculture community, from offering up their land and equipment to support the county fair and other events at the county’s nearby 4-H Park, to their involvement at Our Mother of Sorrows Church in Centreville. The Rhodes’ legacy is one of leadership and commitment that continues with their children and grandchildren, and has left a lasting impact on Maryland agriculture.

Video Link

Ceremony Date: 2/6/20

February 4, 2020

Media Advisory: Governor Hogan to Honor Agriculture Hall of Fame Families

Governor Hogan to Honor Agriculture Hall of Fame Families

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan will induct two farm families into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame during the annual “Taste of Maryland Agriculture” event on February 6 at Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie.

The Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame is the state’s most prestigious agriculture award, recognizing farm families with high standards of achievement and commitment to the industry and their communities.

More than 700 people are expected for the Maryland Agriculture Council’s annual event, which brings together state’s agricultural leaders and lawmakers. In addition, the Agriculture Council will present its annual educational grants. An extensive menu of locally-produced hors d’oeuvres will feature the variety and bounty of Maryland’s agricultural products, along with Maryland wine and beer tasting.


Governor Hogan to Attend Annual Taste of Maryland Agriculture Event and Induct Families into the Agriculture Hall of Fame

When: Thursday, February 6; 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Photo and interview opportunities with the families will begin at about 5:30 p.m. Reception opens at 6:30 p.m. with awards presentation to begin at 8 p.m.

Michael’s Eighth Avenue
7220 Grayburn Drive
Glen Burnie, MD

RSVP: Media interested in covering the event should RSVP to Susan Summers, 240-446-3601.

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Follow Maryland Department of Agriculture on Twitter @MdAgDept

February 15, 2019

2018: The Linthicum Family

The Linthicum Family

Family Name: The Linthicum Family

The Linthicum family embodies the kind of resilience and innovation required to maintain a successful multigenerational family farm. With nearly 200 years invested, the Linthicums are the oldest continuously farming family in Montgomery County. That distinction has not come without adversity, but the family’s dedication and hard work has helped them grow Seneca Ayr Farms to embrace the agriculture industry changing landscape and continue to incorporate new technology and conservation practices. The family’s story began in 1826, when Lot Linthicum began farming tobacco in Boyds. At the turn of the century, the decision was made to get out of the tobacco business and move into dairy. As the dairy operation began to flourish, the family suffered a major setback when their house burnt down in 1927. This forced the Linthicums to stop milking cows and refocus their efforts on growing crops and raising livestock. By 1934, the Linthicums were back in the diary business and continued to raise hogs. Over the next several years, the family updated its operation with modern equipment which increased efficiency and allowed them to expand their milking herd. Charles and Juanita, their son Tom, and brother John continued the family dairy business through the mid-1990s, when declining profit margins and aging labor forced them to make yet another tough adjustment. By fall of 1996, the family had decided to auction off their dairy herd and shift their focus to raising hogs and growing field crops. The farm’s old dairy barn was converted into a finishing facility for the hog operation. In 2003, the family bought a farm in Laytonsville, where they now farm over 1,100 acres in Montgomery County’s Agriculture Reserve. The family grows corn, wheat and soybeans in addition to making hay and straw. Sadly, the hog finishing barn burnt to the ground in 2015, forcing the family to sell-off their breeding herd and refocus yet again on raising a small herd of beef cattle. Charles continues to oversee the farm with Tom, Tom’s wife Paula and employee Jimmy Shelton. The family has established themselves as leaders in the agricultural community both locally and statewide. They have remained involved in groups like FFA and 4-H and continue to advocate for agriculture on state, local and national levels. Tom currently serves on the Montgomery Soil Conservation District board. Like many farmers across Maryland, the Linthicum family has a deep love and passion for agriculture.

Video Link 

Ceremony Date: 2/7/2019

March 2, 2018

2017: The Bowling Family

The Bowling Family

Family Name: The Bowling Family

The Bowling Family of Charles County has lived and farmed for three generations at their Bunker Hill location, and for many generations before that at neighboring farms. Wallace and Martha Bowling purchased the 271 acre farm in 1944. Their main crop was tobacco, which was supplemented by cattle, hogs, and a grain operation in rotation. Wallace passed away in 1960, leaving his 18 year-old son Eddie in charge of the farm. Eddie was later joined by younger brothers Calvin, Charles, James and Howard. In 1998, Charles’ son Chip took over full-time. In 2000, the family accepted the state’s tobacco buyout program, which left them looking for new ways to remain viable. Chip started Bowling Agri-Services with his wife Lynn and their two daughters, leasing land and buildings from the family’s Bunker Hill Farm. The company has expanded from 200 acres of grain crops in the 90s to nearly 1,000 acres today, leasing land on 16 tracts comprising 102 separate fields. The Bowlings are known as leaders in the agricultural community. Chip, Lynn, and their daughters have been active in the local 4-H program. Lynn is a member of Common Ground, an organization that communicates with the public about farm and food issues. Chip has held leadership positions in several local, state, and national organizations. This includes Charles County Farm Bureau and Maryland Grain Producers Association, where he served as president of the Utilization Board. Chip also served as president of the National Corn Growers Association (NGCA). He is the organization’s first president from the East Coast, and the first to serve two terms. Through his work with NGCA, Chip played a major role in many federal initiatives, including the passage of two farm bills.

Video Link

Ceremony Date: 2/1/18

February 3, 2017

2016: The Milburn Family

The Milburn Family

Family Name: The Milburn Family

The Milburn family has been farming in Cecil County for more than 100 years, and the operation is currently run by the family’s fourth generation. Milburn Orchards spans more than 400 acres in Elkton, producing a variety of fruit—mostly apples and peaches. Picking up where their uncle Evan Milburn and father John Milburn left off,  Jay, Melinda, and David Milburn have worked together to establish Milburn Orchards as a leader in the ever-changing landscape of Maryland’s agriculture industry. Milburn Orchards was among the first Maryland farms to embrace the state’s emerging agri-tourism market. The family developed its “BIG BackYard” attraction, giving visitors an opportunity to learn where their food comes from while enjoying a hands-on outdoor experience with their families. The Milburn’s have also developed “U-Pick Adventures,” and have recently expanded their on-farm market to meet increasing demands. As resource conservation continues to be a priority for the state, the Milburns have made a strong commitment to sustainable agriculture. The family has made a number of small changes that have resulted in significant savings financially and ecologically: Windmills, well pumps, irrigation systems, etc. The Millburns are currently in the process of installing solar arrays on the roofs of their farm market and cold storage buildings, which they expect will offset the farm’s electricity usage by 40 percent. The family has also shown leadership in agricultural marketing, leveraging social media and e-mail/text message campaigns to create highly effective marketing programs. Their success in this area has resulted in invitations to speak at a number of trade shows, seminars, and classrooms. In addition to their on-farm contributions, the Milburn family participates in a variety of educational initiatives, and is active in several organizations on local, state, and national levels.

Video Link

Ceremony Date: 2/2/17

February 2, 2017 ,

2015: The Swann Family

The Swann Family

Family Name: Sambo Swann Family

Swann Farms spans more than 360 acres of land along the Patuxent River in northern Calvert County. For more than 160 years and six generations, the Swann family has grown tobacco and traditional field crops including corn, wheat, barley and soybeans. In 1994, the family began to diversify their crops and developed a reputation throughout Southern Maryland for producing high volumes of high-quality fruits and vegetables. The farm also grows malting barley which is often sourced by local breweries. More recently, in an effort to directly engage with consumers, Swann Farms opened its U-Pick operation, an agritourism attraction which allows consumers to pick their own fresh produce. Read More

Video Link

Date of Ceremony: February 5, 2016

February 5, 2015

2014: The Councell Family

The Councell Family  

Family Name: The Councell Family 

Chip Councell, his wife Jo Ann and their son Jason own and operate Councell Farms, a Talbot County retail produce market along Route 50, and a grain farming operation in the Cordova area. The Councell Family began farming in Talbot County around 1690. Chip and Jason are the 10th and 11th generation of Councell farmers. Chip’s father Phil raised hogs and grain. Chip started farming with his father in 1979, married Jo Ann in 1981 and then added vegetable crops to the operation. They currently grow corn, sweet corn, soybeans, wheat, watermelons, cantaloupes, and squash, and they manage 1,000 acres of timber. Jason has been managing the vegetable production and agri-tourism operation since 2004. Jo Ann runs the produce market and Chip handles the grain operation. The Councell Farm is a family affair: Phil still helps daily and the Councell’s daughter Melissa, an elementary school teacher, is often recruited to lend a hand. Jo Ann’s mother Flossie and sister-in-law Betsy also work at the market. The 12th generation of Councell’s includes Jason and Casey’s children Avery, Davis and Sydney; and Melissa and Jason Dodd’s daughter Anna and son Nathan. The Councell family is committed to connecting with the community to explain where food comes from. They have diversified into agri-tourism, converted a shed into a mini-classroom, and now conduct tours for more than 3,000 school children. They also offer internship opportunities. Councell Farms was featured in a video for the “Mid-Atlantic Farmers Feed Us” promotional campaign and Maryland Public Television’s “Maryland Farm and Harvest” series. The Councell family is committed to conservation practices to protect the land for future generations. They have installed numerous grass-lined waterways and rock outlets to filter nutrients and prevent soil erosion, grown cover crops, and built two small shallow-water wildlife areas to attract waterfowl. The farm is enrolled in the federal Conservation Stewardship Program and follows a Forest Stewardship Plan. In 2010, the Councell’s were honored as the Talbot Soil Conservation District Cooperators of the Year for their efforts, innovation and dedication to protecting and conserving the land, environment and wildlife. Chip has been active in a number of agriculture organizations including Talbot County Farm Bureau and the Maryland Grain Producers.

Video Link

Ceremony Date: 2/5/15

January 27, 2014

2013: The Edwards Family​

The Edwards Family  

Family Name: The Edwards Family

The Edwards family began dairy farming in Caroline County 73 years ago. Since then, the 250 acre farm – now called Oakland View Farms, LLC – has grown to 1,500 acres with 700 dairy cows and hundreds of acres of corn, soybean, alfalfa, grass hay, barley and wheat. Eleven irrigation systems cover 900 acres, and the farm plants about 600 acres of cover crops every winter. In addition, 434 acres are permanently preserved through agriculture land preservation easements. The farm received the Maryland Dairy of Distinction Award in 2011. The Edwards family has implemented many major conservation projects through the years to prevent nutrient runoff from reaching the Chesapeake Bay. The farm’s 24-foot buffer around its ditches and tile wells add up to 26 acres. All contaminated water is channeled to a lagoon by installing French drains, rain gutters and sediment traps to divert rain water to storm drains. Heavy use areas around manure storage and bunker silos have been cemented to lead the runoff of these areas to the lagoon. The latest conservation project is the addition of a Bioreactor in an area where our farm runoff water leaves our land.Richard (Dick) and Jan Edwards began operating the farm in 1975 after his father passed away suddenly. He was 33 years old and in charge of a 250 acre farm that had been in the family since 1940. Dick attributes his success to the Ag Econ classes he took at University of Maryland and serving as a director of the Peoples Bank of Maryland. Jan, who grew up on a dairy farm in Wicomico County, met Dick in 1962 during a 4-H trip to West Virginia. They married in 1966. Both Dick and Jan have been very active in community and church organizations, as well as agriculture and dairy organizations, throughout their lives and have both received numerous awards for their leadership.

Video Link

Ceremony Date: 2/6/14

December 31, 2012

2012: Ed and Marion Fry Family

The Ed and Marion Fry Family  

Name of Family: Ed and Marion Fry Family

The patriarch of the family, Edwin C. “Pop” Fry, followed in the footsteps of his parents, Edwin D. and Susan Clarkson Fry, who were innovators and early adaptors of improved technology, promoted by the Cooperative Extension Service in Montgomery County and project leaders from USDA. A network of resources and experiences was forged that set the stage for their five children – Edwin C., George, Amy (Leber), Frederick and Margery (Grace) – to be engaged in 4-H and agriculture throughout their lifetimes and inspired the next generations to stay involved in agriculture.  As a young entrepreneur, Edwin C. was an innovative leader in the agricultural industry. An FFA American Star Farmer and state 4-H dairy judging team member, he helped establish the Montgomery County Agricultural Center in the 1940’s, served as a director for the National Holstein Association from 1965-73. He actively promoted agriculture and international marketing of Holsteins during his time as a director.  He was president of the Maryland Holstein Association when the National Convention was held in Baltimore in 1964. He continued to work with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service throughout his life. He was a highly regarded and internationally known dairy cattle judge.  He served on the Maryland Agriculture Advisory Board (which was, at the time, part of the Board of Regents at the University of Maryland), and later on the Maryland Agricultural Commission.  He received the Certificate of Merit Award in Agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1976, prior to the establishment of the Maryland Department of Agriculture. In 1984 he was inducted into the Maryland Dairy Shrine. Edwin and Lorraine moved Fair Hill Farm to Chestertown in 1960 with their four young children. Active throughout Kent County, Edwin continued to mentor young agriculturalists, advanced farming practices and served his community as a Rotarian and active member of the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown. Edwin later served as a longtime board member for both the Maryland State Fair and Chestertown Bank of Maryland. “Pop” was a well-regarded leader in Maryland agriculture until his death in June 2012.  Married for 67 years, Edwin and Lorraine had three sons, all of whom graduated college with degrees in agriculture, and one daughter. Their oldest son Edwin R. (“Ed”) returned to the farm in 1969 after earning a degree in Dairy Science from the University of Maryland, and by the 1980s had built a 500 cow dairy facility near Kennedyville. Son Ken helped manage 4,000 acres of cropland. Son Robert, a veterinarian, did herd health work and nutrition for the herd. Daughter Joan, who worked briefly on the farm, became a registered nurse, like her mother. All of the Frys, from Pops on down, were active in 4-H and FAA.  By the early 2000s, Ed began working with Horizon Organic Dairy, which had purchased the Kennedyville farm and leased the Naval Academy Dairy Farm in Gambrills. Ed formed Maryland Sunrise Farm, LLC to run the leased operation. The new association also prompted Ed to transition some of his Kent County ground to organic crops. When Horizon Organic stopped operating the Naval Academy Farm in 2005, Ed obtained the lease from the Navy and, with his wife Marian, continues to manage Maryland Sunrise Farm and its many activities today. In 2007, Ed and Marian purchased the Fair Hill Farm business from his extended family.  In addition, Marian took the lead in restoring a house built on the Fair Hill farm in 1760 and which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. She also gave educational farm tours for every fourth grader in Kent County over 20 years.  Together, Edwin and Marian were named the 2006 Northeast winners of the Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture and the Chester Riverkeeper’s Award for practices contributing to cleaner water for the Chester River. Ed’s son (i.e., Pop’s grandson) Matthew, a graduate of Virginia Tech, and his wife Megan, also a Virginia Tech graduate who’s from a seven generation farm family, also work on Fair Hill Farm where they are raising two young children and continuing to advance the business. Under Matt’s leadership, the milking herd increased by from 260 to 380 cows. His goal is to grow the herd internally to 500 cows by 2015. The current rolling herd average is 26,470 pounds of milk; 923 pounds of fat, 790 pounds of protein. Ed’s son Chuck has recently returned to the farm, assuming a part time management role. Fair Hill Farm was named Cooperator of the Year for the Kent Soil and Water Conservation District for the advanced manure handling structures installed on the farm to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Guidelines and the Total Maximum Daily Loads in the Maryland Watershed Implementation Plan. Working with NRCS cost share, the facilities include a neoprene liner and leak detection system to meet the requirements for a CAFO. They also include a manure storage shed for the heifer lot, and a dry cow cement tank for the field to hold manure until it can be spread.

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January 1, 2011

2011: Bob and Drew Stabler

Bob and Drew Stabler  

Name of Family: Bob and Drew Stabler ​

Bob and Drew Stabler have been agricultural leaders and innovators for more than 50 years. They began farming with their father in 1958. Both brothers raised their families on Pleasant Valley Farm, which grew to 4,000 acres. In 2001, to simplify estate planning, Drew retired from Pleasant Valley and began a new partnership with Fred Lechlider (i.e., Bob’s son in law) and his son David to create Sunny Ridge Farm, which raises corn, wheat, soybeans and cattle on 1,800 acres. Bob and his son Randy continue to operate Pleasant Valley, raising corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and cattle on 2,650 acres. Both farms have a history of using the latest best management practices and their average yields are consistently among the highest in Central Maryland. The Stabler brothers installed truck scales in 1977 to weigh each load of grain going in and out of storage, which allows them to keep detailed production and yield records. They were among the earliest adopters of no-till technology. They began using split nitrogen applications on corn in 1975 which helps them use nitrogen more efficiently. They have also installed critical areas and waters where needed; constructed a fertilizer and pesticide loading and containment structure as well as animal waste systems at both farms. They have been Dekalb seed dealers and established on farm test plots for more than 40 years. Most recently, Sunny Ridge has worked with an agronomist on groundbreaking greenseeker research to improve nitrogen efficiency in corn production. And Pleasant Valley became the first farm in the county to fly on mid to late season fungicide applications for control of Gray Leaf Spot and other corn diseases. Both farms have become a must-see stop on farm tours for both student and agriculture professional as they have established a solid reputation for operating a clean, well managed and highly productive farm. Throughout their careers, Bob and Drew Stabler – as well as their spouses and children – have been actively involved in numerous agricultural organizations. Both brothers have also received numerous awards and recognitions throughout the years.

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​​ Date Awarded: February 2, 2012​

January 1, 2010

2010: The Layton Family

The Layton Family  

Name of Family: 

Description: The Layton family has been farming in Dorchester County since the 1920s, primarily producing grain crops, and now manages 1,820 acres. Joseph Layton and his wife Laura have been farming for 38 years. When their son William and his wife Jennifer joined the operation, they diversified the operation to include a vineyard and a winery, Layton’s Chance, which opened to the public in May, 2010.  Since its opening, the winery has sold over 4,500 bottles of wine creating new avenues of economic development for the family and the community. They have implemented Soil and Water Conservation Plans, along with Forest Stewardship Plans, Nutrient Management Plans and Integrated Pest Management Plans on all the land they manage. The Laytons are innovators and leaders in adopting successful practices.  The family remains at the forefront of technology adoption, with record keeping and marketing/business operation plans at the core of their operation. Joseph and Laura serve on various boards and committees serving the interests of agriculture and the community at large including Farm Bureau, the Dorchester County Cooperative Extension Program Advisory Committee, Maryland Soybean Board, Dorchester Ag Reconciliation Committee, Maryland Grain Producers,  Mid-Atlantic Soybean Association Board of Directors, Dorchester County Grain Marketing Club and the Dorchester Board of Education.  The family has been honored with many awards and recognitions including Maryland 100 Bushel Corn Club Contest, Dorchester County Cooperator of the Year, Maryland Cooperator of the Year, Maryland Young Farmer Achievement Award. Lazy Day Farms was named a "Best Managed Farm" in Farm Futures Magazine and received the "Ag Innovator Award" as part of their "Best Managed Farms" contest.

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Date Awarded: February 3, 2011

2010: The Kohl Family

The Kohl Family  

Name of Family: The Kohl Family

Description: The Kohl family owns and operates Angelica Nurseries, Inc., a 2,200 acre wholesale nursery that originated in Pennsylvania and moved to Maryland in 1956.  Three generations of nurserymen – Mr. Kohl and his sons Verne, Tim and Bernard, Sr., and grandsons Jim and Bernard, Jr. – are all part of the family operation, which strives to produce heavy, landscape grade plants grown to the highest standards.  Kent County’s Sassafras silt loam soil is ideal for their unique bag and burlap operation, which utilizes highly specialized equipment created through the family’s own innovation.  Angelica Nurseries is the largest H2A employer in the State of Maryland and at the forefront of the immigration/legal work force issue. Their expertise has been sought by President Bush, who met with them in 2007, and they have served as a liaison to the Governor’s Commission on Migrant and Seasonal Labor. The family members have held leadership roles for a number of national, state and local boards and commissions and civic organizations. Within the community, they regularly contribute to the needs of local churches, fire companies, parks and others with donations of plants and equipment.  Governor O’Malley recognized their donation of 2,000 trees to a state tree planning program for homeowners in Prince George’s County who lost trees resulting from emerald ash borer eradication efforts. They have also been honored with the MNLA Professional Achievement Award (1987) and Kent County Cooperator of the Year Award (1985).

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Date Awarded: February 3, 2011

February 4, 2009

2009: Mehrle H & Thelma Ramsburg Jr.

The Ramsburg Family  

Family Name: Ramsburg Family

 Mehrle, Jr. and his wife Thelma Ramsburg own the 275-acre Brookfield Farms, a designated Century Farm, in Thurmont. Formerly dairy farmers, the family now produces corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, hay and manages crop herd replacement and agri-tourism operations, which includes a 13-acre pick-your-own pumpkin patch and corn maze. Three generations are actively involved with the operation with the sixth generation being raised there now. The Ramsburgs, their daughter Mary Jane and her husband Sam Roop along with their children Julie, Lauren and Jake assist with the operation. They have always supported conservation practices by using sod waterways, spring troughs, cover crops and crop rotation. They also participate in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) utilizing systemic insecticide seed treatment and site specific spray technology with a GPS system and the latest technology to reduce drift. They also use new monitors to record planting and yield data for corn and soybeans. The Ramsburgs have held leadership roles with Frederick County Farm Bureau, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, Central and Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit, Dairy Herd Improvement Association, Thurmont Cooperative, the Maryland Agricultural Commission, American Farm Bureau Dairy Advisory Committee, Frederick County Agricultural Land Preservation Board, Maryland Farm Bureau Young Farmers, 4-H, FFA and Utica Cemetery. Additionally, they offer a distinguished record of support for their church and community. They helped to start the Frederick County Farm Bureau Farm Safety Camp for Kids, and the family has done extensive local and international missionary work. Mr. Ramsburg has also been active in his church, participated in Lewistown Ruritan, Lewistown Fire Department and is a life member of The Great Frederick Fair. They have been honored as Farm Family of the Year in Frederick County (1986), Outstanding Young Farmer from the Jaycees (1967), Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer (1997) and 4-H All Stars (1953).

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Ceremony Date: 2/4/10

2009: John A Prouty & Family

The Prouty Family  

Family Name: The Prouty Family

John A. Prouty, his wife Margaret and their son John C. Prouty own and operate the 288-acre Willow Oak Farm in Huntingtown. As fourth and fifth generation farmers, their family is committed to protecting water quality and preserving farmland. For much of the 100 plus years of Willow Oak Farm, the family produced tobacco, corn, wheat, barley and soybeans. John replaced tobacco production with successful cut flower and vegetable enterprises in 1998. The Prouty Family has a firm commitment to agricultural and environmental stewardship and employs extensive conservation practices on their farm, which is along the Patuxent River. These practices include 100-foot buffers between the river and all cultivated fields, grass filter strips, cover crops, crop rotation, no-till cropping, integrated pest management, and a three-acre sediment control pond. Additionally, they have participated in the nutrient management program from its start as a voluntary program and have always used soil testing as a standard practice. Willow Oak Farm was the first farm preserved for agricultural use in Calvert County. John C. Prouty maintains a law office at Willow Oak Farm, where much of his practice is related to agricultural land preservation. He was also instrumental in establishing a program for the use of “transfer of development rights” in Calvert County, which serves as a national model. The Prouty’s remain steadfast leaders in the agricultural community. The family has held leadership roles within the agricultural community including the Calvert County Farm Bureau, County Planning Commission, Agricultural Land Preservation Committee, County Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board and Calvert Farmland Trust.

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Ceremony Date: 2/4/10

February 5, 2008

2008: The Harry Black Family

The Harry Black Family  

Family Name: The Black Family

The Black family operates the 175-acre Catoctin Mountain Orchard in Thurmont, and produces and markets top-quality fruits, berries, vegetables and flowers. Sibling owners Robert E. and Patricia A. Black built upon the foundation established by their late parents Harry and Helen Black, who purchased the farm and a small roadside market in 1961, developing into one of the best orchards in Maryland. Now second, third and fourth generations of the Black family work the orchard and retail market. Ninety-five percent of the produce grown on the farm and many value-added products are sold through their retail store. The farm also offers “pick-your-own” crops such as blueberries, black raspberries, sweet and sour cherries and flowers. The Black family employs extensive conservation practices on their farm, including ponds for drip irrigation, diversions, grass waterways, contour tree and crop planting, cover crops and crop rotation. They also use integrated pest management practices and allow for eco-friendly disposal of tree trimmings, unmarketable fruits and vegetative waste that generates compost, which is returned to the soil. The Blacks have held leadership positions with the Maryland State Horticulture Society, Dwarf Fruit Tree Association, U.S. Apple Association, Maryland State Apple Commission, Tourism Council of Frederick County and Frederick County Farm Bureau. They have been honored as 2006 Frederick County Farm Family of the Year and 2007 Master Entrepreneurs. Additionally, they offer a distinguished record of support for the community and provide fruit and/or cider donations to their church’s activities, as well as Frederick County 4-H, Grange, University of Maryland Extension, The Great Frederick Fair, Taste of Maryland Agriculture event, Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show, fire companies and the Governor and General Assembly each legislative session.

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Ceremony Date: 2/5/09

February 4, 2008

2008: Griffith Family

The Griffith Family  

Family Name: The Griffith Family

Earl and his son Jeffrey Griffith are third and fourth generation farmers operating their family farm in Lothian, Anne Arundel County, and have been farming for more than 63 years. Three generations are now actively involved with the operation. Earl and his wife Lillian own Griffith Farms. Earl and Jeffrey converted their 80-acre tobacco farm into the current diversified farming operation, which includes 390 acres plus 400 rented acres of grain, hay, fruits, vegetables and mums. Their family has always been a pioneer in innovative, progressive approaches to agriculture. The family has received numerous awards for their accomplishments in conservation. In 1992, they developed one of the first nutrient management plans in the county. They have installed a variety of conservation practices including strip crops, terraces, contours, grassed waterways and use cover crops, crop rotation, and complete no-till planting. They are recognized by the Farm Bureau and legislators for their leadership ability and involvement with Anne Arundel County and the state of Maryland agricultural legislation. They have hosted numerous demonstrations and field days to share their farming technologies and to teach safety and rescue issues. Their family strives to maintain the farming operation profitably and efficiently by using the latest technology available.

The motto they live by is:

“If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you.

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Ceremony Date: 2/5/09

March 2, 2007

2007: Patrick Family

The Patrick Family  

Family Name: The Patrick Family

The Patrick Family operate Maple Dell Farm in Woodbine  and have been farming for more than 70 years with three generations now actively involved in the operation. B. David Patrick, his wife Ann and his brother James, and their sons Michael and Denny and their spouses and children farm more than 1,100 acres of cropland and maintain a head of 200 milk cows and 200 young stock. They regularly use crop rotations, no-till farming, grassed waterways, critical area planting, cover crops, pest management, and nutrient management. The farm operation hosts many tours, including a legislative tour in 2007, where visitors learn about the complexity of a large dairy operation and farming in general. David Patrick is an active member in the agricultural community. He has served on the All-American Dairy Show Board of Directors. He has also served as president, vice president and director for both the Maryland Ayrshire Association and the U.S. Ayrshire Association. David also has been involved with the Farm Service Agency, the Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Board, PDCA and he has acted as a director of the Wills 4-H Fair in Maryland.

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Ceremony Date: 2/7/08

February 7, 2007

2007: The Schmidt Family

The Patrick Family  

Family Name: The Schmidt Family

Walter and Nancy Schmidt, their son, Hans, and his wife, Jennie, and their son, Allan, and his wife, Brenda, operate Schmidt farms. The farm operation includes 1,800 acres in grain, vegetables, hay and wine grapes, and they are making a transition to growing organic crops. The Schmidts recognize that crop diversification is important to successful family farming. Since they started farming in the 1940s, the Schmidts have had an innovative, progressive approach to agriculture. They use best management practices and are constantly evaluating their operation and new technology to keep their farm viable in their changing community. The family members are agricultural leaders and active in the community. They participate in many organizations, including the Queen Anne’s County Farm Bureau, Ruritan, 4-H Foundation, Chesapeake Fields, Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, Rotary Exchange Group and International 4-H Youth Exchange. “The Schmidts are a model farm family working together on innovative farming practices along with diversification,” said Jenny Rhodes, director of the Queen Anne’s County office of the University of Maryland Extension.

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Ceremony Date: 2/7/08

March 2, 2006

2006: Donald Dell Family

The Donald Dell Family  

Family Name: The Donald Dell Family

Four generations of the Dell family operate Cranberry Meadow Farm in Carroll County. The farm operation includes a 180 cow dairy with top-notch genetics, Black Angus beef cattle, 3,300 acres of corn, soybeans and small grains, and a grain elevator. Donald Dell has been farming all his life. “Growing up on a farm was a lot of work, but also very rewarding. The farm was self-sustaining – crops were grown to feed the family and livestock. Families canned, made jelly and apple butter and their own clothing.” He says that “by today’s standards we were poor – but we didn’t know it.” “Poor” as far as money goes, but wealthy in that they had everything they needed. He still appreciates the miracle of watching a plant sprout from a seed. Donald has seen firsthand the evolution of farming equipment and techniques. He remembers using a walking plow and milking by hand. The combine (a machine that cuts and threshes grain swaths) went from being horse drawn, to tractor drawn, to self-propelled. His first combine, bought in 1945, had a 5-foot header – today’s combine has a 30-foot header. Milking went from hand milking to suction machines to the current robotic system where the machine senses a cow in the chute, can check to see if she has been milked recently, will clean the udder and attach to the teat for milking. The Dells have incorporated conservation best management practices since the 1950s, are strong supporters of agricultural land preservation, and continue to run a profitable, diversified operation. All generations have been and continue to be leaders in a wide range of agricultural and community organizations including: 4-H, Carroll County Soil Conservation District, Farm Bureau, Dairy Herd Improvement Association, the Historical Society of Carroll County, PTA and their church. Donald served for 12 years as the Commissioner for Carroll County.

Ceremony Date: 2/1/07

February 1, 2006

2006: Malkus Family

The Malkus Family  

Family Name: The Malkus Family

The Malkus family (Milton Jr., Ted, Calvin, Sunny, Bill and Pat) operate Blackwater Farms, a 3,200-acre diversified grain farm in Dorchester County. They produce corn, soybeans, small grain, straw, timber and hogs. The Malkuses are stewards of the land, using various soil and water conservation practices and participating in farmland preservation. The family members are agricultural leaders and active in the community, serving in numerous roles on the Maryland Soybean Board, Mid-Atlantic Soybean Association, Dorchester County Farm Bureau, Dorchester Soil Conservation District; the Dorchester County Forestry Board; Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce and the Maryland Agricultural Commission. “As early adopters of new practices, their cutting edge operation benefits the community, as well as local farmers look to them to determine the suitability of new practices,” said Betsy Gallagher of the University of Maryland Extension in Dorchester County. “They are a unique family and that they have been progressive and adopted new practices that would improve their operation while remaining humble and appreciative of their neighbors and local community. They have given so much to their church, community and agriculture as well as their family and friends,” said Ronald Wade, retired University of Maryland Extension Agent who has known the Malkus family since 1956. “The Malkus family is renowned farmers who have farmed for several generations the Blackwater Farms of Dorchester County. They have served the farming community on their numerous boards and the whole community through the church and many community organizations,” said Effie Elzey, Dorchester County Council.

Ceremony Date: 2/1/07

March 2, 2005

2005: The Hutchison Family

The Hutchison Family  

Family Name: The Hutchison Family

 The Hutchisons have been farming in Talbot County since their ancestors moved from West Virginia in the 1880s. The current farm has been in operation since 1944. “Their farming operation is one of the largest in the state,” said Lewis Riley, noting that the farm began at 300 acres. “The best land preservation is a successful farm operation. 3,900 acres, that’s a real land preservation” in action. The Hutchison operation is highly diversified, from running a contract swine operation to growing grain, lima beans, peas, cucumbers and Christmas trees, and a recently-introduced seed sale business. They also have led the way in technology. The Hutchisons were among the first farms in the state to use precision agriculture through the use of satellite readings through their laptop computers, and they are leaders in the promotion of ethanol as a future energy and renewable fuel source, and the farmer’s role in growing the necessary resources to produce the fuel. The Hutchison’s home farm also was one of the first farms to promote and practice soil conservation, nutrient management, conservation tillage, cover crops and crop rotation on a large-scale basis. The family is active in the community. Richard Hutchison has served for years in the county planning board. Bobby Hutchison had served on several state boards and committees. In addition to running the Christmas tree operation, John Earl has a doctorate and has been active in church outreach programs most of his life. In addition to their years on the farm, Harold and David branched out and have been successful in other businesses. Among them, the brothers, sons and their wives have been active in the Maryland and Talbot County Farm Bureaus, Ruritan, Maryland Agricultural Commission, Southern States Cooperative Board, Talbot County Soil Conservation District Board, Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Maryland Christmas Tree Association, and Cordova Volunteer Fire Department. Most have served as deacons at the Fairview Church of the Brethren.

Ceremony Date: 2/2/06

March 2, 2004

2004: Wheatley Neal Family

The Wheatley Neal Family  

Family Name: The Wheatley Neal Family

The Neals have been farming since the 1950s when Wheatley started with less than 100 acres supplementing the farm with custom farming and welding. Neal Farms Inc. now consists of 3,500 acres, owning 900 acres. They are included in the Century Farm designation and have acreage enrolled in the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program. The family irrigates approximately 20 percent of the land they farm. Their operation includes soybeans, barley, corn, (field and sweet), wheat, chickens, custom farming and custom welding. They have been following a nutrient management plan for approximately 11 years. The poultry portion has a waste management plan including a poultry waste storage structure and composter. Their farm operation also utilizes conservation practices including no-till, crop rotation, irrigation management, tree planting, cover crop, grade stabilization structure, roof run-off management, waste control structures and tile drainage. In his early years of farming, Wheatley built one of the first no-till soybean planters in the area. In the busy beginning years of the farming operation, Wheatley and Ann always took time for their daughters Cindy and Charlotte. They were 4-H leaders for Charlotte and Cindy’s 4-H Club. Both daughters married farmers who have joined the operation to form Neal Farms, Inc. The four grandchildren also assist in farming operations during planting and harvesting season. In addition to the long hours demanded by the farming operation, the family still finds time to volunteer in the community in numerous organizations including the Soil Conservation District, Southern States Grain Board, Caroline County Farm Bureau, Concord United Methodist Church, Caroline County Fair Board, FFA and Tuckahoe Equestrian Center.

Ceremony Date: 2/3/05

February 2, 2004

2004: William Anderson Family

The William Anderson Family  

Family Name: The William Anderson Family

The Anderson’s operate Wimberly Farms, Inc. a 4,000-acre farming operation that features 1,200 acres of corn, 1,500 acres of soybeans, 600 acres of wheat, 250 acres of barley and 450 acres of timber. Production is enhanced by a 200-bushel per hour seed processing facility and 500,000 bushel grain drying and storage facility. The operation sells seed at the wholesale and retail levels. The cornerstone on which the operation was built is the custom harvesting business, which includes planting, spraying, hauling and seed cleaning. Over the years, no-till has been incorporated on half of the acreage, with benefits such as soil conservation, risk of drought stress and increased productivity of equipment and labor. Technological advances, which include computers, data transmission network, on-board equipment computers and global positioning system, maintain an extensive database to be utilized in the farming operation. For the Anderson’s, farming is not just an occupation, but a way of life. For four generations the Andreson’s have contributed to local, state, and national organizations such as Maryland Crop Improvement Association, Somerset County School Board, Somerset County Farm Bureau, Maryland Soybean Board, Manokin Presbyterian Church, Somerset Ruritan Club, Farm Service Agency, Critical Area Commission and Lions Club. Both the Anderson’s son Kevin and daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, were state and national Agriculture Achievement award winners and runners-up in the Farm Bureau program.

Ceremony Date: 2/3/05

March 2, 2003

2003: John H. Murray Family

The Murray Family  

Family Name: The Murray Family

 John H. Murray and his sons operate a 350-acre operation in Somerset County with 25,000 broilers, 350 beef cattle, grain and forages. In addition to beef cattle, Murray has a cow-calf operation. He grows all of his cattle feed and all cattle are grown to finished market weights. John is known as one of the great producers among residents and other farmers in Somerset County. Among his strong community involvement, John has served as charter president of the Somerset County Fair Board, director of the Somerset County Farm Bureau, a trustee of the Asbury United Methodist Church, a member of the Kent County Agricultural Land Preservation Board, member of the Mt. Vernon Fire Company and numerous other committees. John has received countless awards and is recognized throughout the agricultural community for his hard work and dedication. He received the Outstanding Young Farmer Award (1956) and the Somerset Soil Conservation District Farmer of the Year (1974). The Murray family was recognized by the Rehobeth Ruritan Club as the Somerset Farm Family of the Year (2001). He was also very involved with the 4-H and FFA.

Ceremony Date: 2/5/04

2003: Marion Lee Holland Family

The Marion Lee Holland Family  

Family Name: Holland Family

Marion Lee Holland was a logger and farmer in his early years and later founded Glad-Mar Dairy Farm in Pocomoke City. The dairy is one of only two remaining in Worcester County. “They’ve always been friends of extension, 4-H and the Worcester County Fair. They also hold an open house each spring for all of the elementary schools in the county,” said Eddie Johnson of the University of Maryland’s Wicomico County Cooperative Extension. The Holland’s Glad-Mar Grain Farm and the Glad-Mar Dairy Farm are leaders in conservation practices, manure recycling and the use of winter cover crops. Marion has shown his dedication to the community by being an active member of many organizations including Maryland Farm Bureau where he has served as a past president, Worcester County 4-H Club, Board of Commissioners for the Maryland Game and Inland Fish Commission. His memberships included being a lifetime member of Pitts Creek Presbyterian Church where he served as past elder and trustee, past president of the Pocomoke Ruritan Club and founder and charter member of the Pocomoke YMCA. Marion has received awards for his achievements in agriculture including Jaycees’ “Outstanding Young Farmer” of Worcester County and he won the 1957 Maryland Efficient Dairy Production Contest.

Ceremony Date: 2/5/04​

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