Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame
March 2, 2018
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.
Ceremony Date: 2/1/18
February 3, 2017
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.
Ceremony Date: 2/2/17
February 2, 2017
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
Date of Ceremony: February 5, 2016
February 5, 2015
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.
Ceremony Date: 2/5/15
January 27, 2014
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.
Ceremony Date: 2/6/14
December 31, 2012
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.
Date Awarded: February 7, 2013
January 1, 2011
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.
Date Awarded: February 2, 2012
January 1, 2010
Name of Family: The Layton 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.
Date Awarded: February 3, 2011
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).
Date Awarded: February 3, 2011
February 4, 2009
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).
Ceremony Date: 2/4/10
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.
Ceremony Date: 2/4/10
February 5, 2008
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.
Ceremony Date: 2/5/09
February 4, 2008
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.
Ceremony Date: 2/5/09
March 2, 2007
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.
Ceremony Date: 2/7/08
February 7, 2007
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.
Ceremony Date: 2/7/08
Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame
|March 2||2017: The Bowling Family|
|February 3||2016: The Milburn Family|
|February 2||2015: The Swann Family|
|February 5||2014: The Councell Family|
|January 27||2013: The Edwards Family|
|December 31||2012 Awardee: Ed and Marion Fry Family|
|January 1||2011 Awardee: Bob and Drew Stabler|
|January 1||2010 Awardee: The Layton Family|