Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame
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
March 2, 2006
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
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
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
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
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
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