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Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame

February 4, 2009

2009: Mehrle H & Thelma Ramsburg Jr.

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

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).

Video Link

Ceremony Date: 2/4/10


2009: John A Prouty & Family

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

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.

Video Link

Ceremony Date: 2/4/10


February 5, 2008

2008: The Harry Black Family

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

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.

Video Link

Ceremony Date: 2/5/09


February 4, 2008

2008: Griffith Family

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

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.

Video Link

Ceremony Date: 2/5/09


March 2, 2007

2007: Patrick Family

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

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.

Video Link

Ceremony Date: 2/7/08


February 7, 2007

2007: The Schmidt Family

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

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.

Video Link

Ceremony Date: 2/7/08


March 2, 2006

2006: Donald Dell Family

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

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

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

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

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

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

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

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

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

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

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

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

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

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


March 2, 2002

2002: William & Jean Knill

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

Family Name: The Knill Family

Bill and Jean Knill own and operate Knill’s Farm Market, a 700-acre livestock, grain and fresh produce farm in Carroll County. Their farm incorporates crop rotation, no-till cultivation, grassed waterways, strip cropping and integrated pest management. The Knills extended the season for fresh fruits and vegetables by utilizing rain gutters to hold the media in which the plants grow in their greenhouse. Bill has served as president and vice-president of both the Carroll County and Maryland Farm Bureaus, president of the Carroll County Agricultural Commission, and as a member of the Carroll County Economic Development Commission and numerous other committees. Jean chaired the Carroll County Agriculture in the Classroom committee for 15 years and serves on the board of directors of the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation and on both the Maryland and Carroll County Farm Bureau women’s committees.

Ceremony Date: 2/6/03


February 2, 2002

2002: Russell & Shirley Watson

Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

Family Name: The Watson Family

The family farm was purchased in 1955 by Russell and Shirley Watson. The young newlyweds bought the farm a few months before their wedding, and once the vows were said they happily settled in. Coming from a long line of farmers, Russell decided to grow tobacco on his farm like his father before him. They had four children: Russell Jr., Connie, Robert and Susan. As the farm and the children grew, the family decided they needed an additional source of income. Since Russell always had a fondness for pigs, the Watson’s became hog farmers as well, adding 400 head of hog to the operation in 1960. Since Russell was the entrepreneurial sort of fellow, and attuned to the changing agricultural markets, the farm underwent several changes over the next few decades. In 1969, the Watson’s decided to grow trees and shrubs and Robin Hill Farm became Robin Hill Farm Nursery. The nursery included approximately 100 acres of shade and ornamental trees and 20 acres of container stock. In 1970, the family added a fall festival and pumpkin patch to the farm, and thousands of visitors came each year to take a hayride, see the animals, and pick a pumpkin. Eventually the nursery business became the main source of income for the family. The family consolidated the farm by getting out of the tobacco industry and transitioned from raising hogs commercially to just raising a few for the family. As the years progressed, the children grew up and got married and grandchildren and great grandchildren were added to the family.

Ceremony Date: 2/6/03


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