Governor Hogan Inducts Farm Family into Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame
Calvert County Family Receives State’s Most Prestigious Agriculture Award
Cecil County Farmer Receives First Outstanding Young Farmer Award
GLEN BURNIE, MD – Governor Larry Hogan and Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder inducted the Swann Family of Calvert County into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame tonight, making the family the 47th recipients of the prestigious recognition. Accepting the honor from Governor Hogan were J. Allen and Patricia Swann, Jody and Donna Swann, and Joe-Sam and Kelly Swann. 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. Governor Hogan and Secretary Bartenfelder also presented the first annual Maryland Outstanding Young Farmer award to Robert Wesley Miller, Jr. of Cecil County.
“It is hard to think of a family more deserving of this distinct honor than the Swann family,” said Governor Hogan. “Their commitment to preserving our environmental resources and giving back to their community is a great reminder of how important agriculture is to the state of Maryland.”
During his remarks, Governor Hogan focused on the outstanding leadership, stewardship and accomplishments of the agricultural community. He cited the importance of agriculture to the state’s quality of life and to the economy by directly supporting 45,600 jobs.
“Each year, it is a pleasure for me to watch another hardworking farm family enter the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “The Swann family is very important to Maryland’s agricultural community, and a great example of the dedication our state has to promoting the industry and preserving the environment.”
About the Swann Family (Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame)
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.
With its close proximity to the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay, Swann Farms has embraced its responsibility as stewards of the environment. The farm engages in many environmental best practices including the use of cover crops and minimum-till production of fruit and vegetables. Swann Farms was among the first to participate in the department’s then-voluntary nutrient management program and has remained in compliance ever since. The family has also been consistently involved with the University of Maryland Extension’s educational programs. Through their sensitivity to the environment and cultivation of high-value crops, the Swann family has created a farm that is economically and environmentally sustainable.
Beyond their work on the farm, J. Allen, Patricia, Jody, Donna, Joe-Sam and Kelly have each shown a great commitment to engaging the local community and raising awareness of local food production and issues affecting family farms. The Swanns are also involved with several charities and have donated produce to the Maryland Food Bank, End Hunger Calvert, and many local churches, fire departments and nonprofits. The family also remains dedicated to the Calvert County Farm Bureau and Young Farmers, where they have collectively held several leadership roles throughout the years. 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 Extension offices. A complete list of the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame members is available online.
The Maryland Young Farmers Advisory Board and the Maryland Department of Agriculture initiated the Maryland Outstanding Young Farmer Award in 2015 to honor up-and-coming leaders of Maryland’s thriving agricultural community. The award pays tribute to a deserving young farmer who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to agriculture in Maryland, progress in their agricultural career, use of resource conservation practices, and contributions to their community.
About Robert Wesley Miller, Jr. (2015 Maryland Outstanding Young Farmer)
Wes is the herd manager at Chesapeake Gold Farms and the sixth generation to farm his family’s land. With his father Bob, Wes manages two farms, milks 220 cows, and farms 1000 acres of hay, straw and other crops in Cecil County. Wes graduated from Penn State University with an animal science major and two minors in agronomy and agriculture business. While on campus, Wes was very active in Delta Theta Sigma and assisted AgrAbility projects in Pennsylvania to provide resources and support for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural workers with disabilities so that they can live independently and continue in production. Wes is also committed to installing and maintaining a wide variety of conservation practices on his farms. He is an active member of his local farming community, sitting on several boards and volunteering for 4-H.
“Wes has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills in the Maryland agricultural community, made countless contributions to the community and has been graced with many skills, including a strong work ethic and passion for agriculture. He is well deserving of this honor,” said Secretary Bartenfelder.
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Quotes about the Swann Family from the Nominators
“I am very happy to see the Swann family receive this well-earned recognition. Through their strong commitment to agriculture, the environment, and educating the community, the Swanns have established themselves as great leaders, and a fine example of how a farm family should operate in the 21st century.” – Herb Reed, Extension Agent, University of Maryland Extension, Calvert County
“The Calvert County Farm Bureau is so pleased that the Swann family is being inducted into the Maryland Agricultural Hall of Fame. Sambo, Jody, and now Joe-Sam are a shining example of a progressive farm family that puts quality production above all else. Swann Farms is highly respected in Southern Maryland for its attention to detail and its positive contribution to the community as a whole. We congratulate them for this well-deserved honor.” – Susie Hance-Wells, President, Calvert County Farm Bureau
“I have known the Swann family for more than 30 years. As manager of the local soil conservation office, I have had many opportunities to work with the family on conservation issues. They have a beautiful farm on the Patuxent River and are very conscientious about applying the right conservation practices to reduce erosion into the river and promote soil health. They are very active in the community and support local conservation initiatives. They continue to diversify the farm, growing new and innovative crops, and trying new ideas. Their sweet corn is the best in the county! I am very pleased to see they are being honored in the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame.” – Bill Clark, District Manager, Calvert County Soil Conservation District