2012: Ed and Marion Fry Family
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