Governor Hogan Inducts Farm Family into Agriculture Hall of Fame; Talbot Co. Family Receives State’s Most Prestigious Ag Award
GLEN BURNIE, MD – Governor Larry Hogan and Acting Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder inducted the Councell Family of Talbot County into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame tonight, making the family the 46th recipients of the prestigious recognition. Accepting the honor from Governor Hogan were Chip and Jo Ann Councell, Jason and Melissa Dodd, Jason and Casey Councell and Phil Councell Sr. The family was inducted in front of nearly 700 agricultural leaders and legislators from across the state during the annual “Taste of Maryland” agriculture event, held at Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie.
“Lt. Governor Rutherford and I are proud to welcome the Councell Family into the Agriculture Hall of Fame,” said Governor Hogan. “Maryland farmers are doing everything they can to balance protecting our Bay with building strong, durable businesses. And we’re going to do everything we can to keep Maryland’s agricultural industry strong, diverse and sustainable.”
During his remarks, Governor Hogan focused on the outstanding leadership, stewardship and accomplishments of the agricultural community. He cited the importance to agriculture to the state’s quality of life and to the economy by directly supporting 45,600 jobs in Maryland.
“Inducting a farm family into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame is a highlight of the year,” said Acting Secretary Bartenfelder. “The Councell family exemplifies extraordinary commitment to Maryland’s agricultural industry and their community. They demonstrate a consistently high sense of responsibility to the land and water, and to the community, and it is a pleasure to honor them tonight.”
About the Councell Family
Chip Councell, his wife Jo Ann and their son Jason Councell 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 agritourism 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; 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 Councells includes Jason and Casey’s children Avery, Davis and Sydney; and Melissa and Jason Dodd’s daughter Anna.
Councell Farms are most prominently identified from the road with their traditional red barn, giant watermelon, oversized basket of tomatoes, and John Deere combine slide. The market opens from summer through the fall, ending with their biggest attraction, a pick your own pumpkin patch.
The Councell family is committed to connecting with the community to explain where food comes from. They have diversified into agtourism, 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 TV’s “Maryland Farm & 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 Councells 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.
A brief slideshow featuring the new Agriculture Hall of Fame family was played during the dinner and can be viewed online.
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.
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Quotes about the Councell Family from the Nominators
“I am pleased that the Councell family is being honored in the Governor’ Agriculture Hall of Fame. They are professional and conscientious in every aspect of their cash grain and vegetable stand operations. They support the community by hosting school groups and tours and are very involved behind the scene by serving on numerous boards and committees including Farm Bureau and the Maryland Grain Producers. Their agricultural roots run deep, attested to by their efforts to educate the public, young and old, about agriculture.” – Craig Zinter, District Manager, Talbot County Soil Conservation
“I am so happy to see the Councell family recognized for its commitment to the industry, land and community. With 12 generations strong in Talbot County, the Councells have responded to changes in markets, business climate and the environment. The Councells are strong advocates of agriculture, and I have had the pleasure of participating on numerous tours and events on their farm. The number of people they connect a year to agriculture is staggering!” – Shannon Dill, Principal Agent, University of Maryland Extension, Talbot County
“Councell Farms have a 300-year history of passion and advocacy for agriculture on many levels. Their produce stand clearly reflects their pride and hard work in every aspect of their operation. The Councell family contributes to the community by donating produce, assists with local fundraisers and volunteers time to many state and local agriculture organizations and has done so for generations. Talbot County Farm Bureau recommended Chip Councell for this award for his passion and dedication in supporting Maryland Agriculture.” – Eddie Boyle, President, Talbot County Farm Bureau