Governor O’Malley Inducts Farm Family into Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame
ANNAPOLIS, MD (Feb. 7, 2013) – Governor Martin O’Malley and Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance inducted the Edwin Fry Family of Fair Hill Farms, Inc. in Kent County into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame tonight, making them the 44th recipients of the prestigious recognition. Accepting the honor were Edwin R. Fry and his wife Marian; and sons Matthew and his wife Megan Fry, and Chuck and his wife Kathryn Fry. Also in attendance from the family were daughter Amanda and her husband Lt. Col. David Halla. The induction was made before nearly 700 agricultural leaders and legislators from across the state during the annual “Taste of Maryland” agriculture event, held this year for the first time at the Loews Hotel in Annapolis.
“We are very pleased to welcome the Fry Family into the Hall of Fame. They are a truly remarkable representative of the many farm families who work so hard to keep Maryland’s agricultural industry strong, diverse and sustainable,” said Governor O’Malley. “For at least three generations, the Frys have demonstrated, not just a willingness but a strong desire to diversify their operation and adopt new technologies and practices that make them both environmental stewards as well as creative, innovative and successful businesses.”
During his remarks, Governor O’Malley focused on the outstanding leadership, stewardship and accomplishments of the agricultural community. He commended farmers for leading by example on conservation, citing 414,000 acres of planted cover crops this year and 2,200 conservation projects installed on farms throughout the state. He highlighted the State’s commitment to provide farmers with the resources they need to implement more advanced nutrient management.
“Inducting a farm family into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame is always a highlight of the year,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “The Frys have been farming for generations and feel a keen sense of responsibility to the land, to the water and to the mission of providing a safe and nutritious food supply. They are among those who exemplify the highest standards of achievement and commitment to the industry and their communities. It is a pleasure to honor them tonight.”
During the event Secretary Hance unveiled that “The Maryland Farmer” – a new 13-part series on Maryland Public Television – is slated to air this fall to help increase public understanding of Maryland agriculture.
The Edwin Fry Family owns and leases 1,350 acres of Fair Hill Farms, Inc., in Kent County and leases 800 acres of the Maryland Sunrise Farm, LLC, in Anne Arundel County. The business includes a Holstein and Brown Swiss milking herd, an Angus beef herd, grain, hay, vegetables, facility rentals and agri-tourism. The farm land includes1,445 acres that are certified organic.
Edwin C. Fry, the family patriarch and founder of the business, died last year; however, two successive generations continue to run the operation. Married for 67 years, Edwin C. and Lorriane Fry had three sons, Ed, Robert and Kenneth, who all graduated from college with degrees in agriculture. Their daughter Joan followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a Registered Nurse. Son Edwin R. Fry now manages the operation with his wife Marian and their sons Matthew, his wife Megan, and Chuck.
Fair Hill Farms was named 2011 Cooperator of the Year for the Kent Soil and Water Conservation District for advanced manure handling structures installed on the farm. A house built on the farm in 1760 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A brief slideshow featuring the new Agriculture Hall of Fame family was played during the dinner and can be viewed online at: http://youtu.be/9Eh4OhyhCRE.
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. A complete list of the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame members is available online at: http://www.mda.maryland.gov/pdf/aghall.pdf.
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A Biographical Sketch of the 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.
Quotes About the Fry Family from the Nominators
“Agriculture is the backbone of Kent County and we have been blessed with many individuals and families who have worked hard to keep agriculture viable and strong. The Fry Family has been instrumental in ensuring agriculture continues to thrive in our beautiful county. We are pleased that they have been selected to be a recipient of such an appropriate honor.” – Kara K. Morris, President, Kent County Farm Bureau
“The Fry family is an excellent resource and advocate for the agriculture community of Kent County and the State of Maryland. They have opened their farm to tours and have participated in research projects with the University of Maryland and USDA. It is great to see a younger generation interested in agriculture and continuing the work of ‘Pop’ Fry.” – Jay A Douthit, Kent County Extension Director
“The Fry Family are long supporters of the Kent Soil & Water Conservation District and active conservationists. Fair Hill Farms, Inc. under the leadership of Ed “Pop” Fry was cooperator of the year in 1979. Ed’s brother Robert Fry and Judy Gifford of St. Brigid’s Farm were cooperators of the year in 2001. Fair Hill Farms, Inc. with Ed and his son Matt at the helm were honored as cooperators of the year in 2011. The Fry family is the only family in Kent County to have 3 generations honored with this award. The District is very proud of all that they have accomplished.” – Karen Miller, Soil Conservation District Manager, Kent County