ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan recently honored Maryland’s farm families for their commitment to farming and leadership in preserving agricultural land by presenting Century Farm designations to five families from five counties who have farmed the same land for more than 100 years.
Since the program began in 1994, 187 farms — about one percent of the state’s 12,200 farms – have received the Century Farm designation. Four of those have received the Tricentennial Farm designation and 26 have received the Bicentennial Farm designation.
“Today it is my distinct honor to celebrate five families that represent the absolute best of Maryland’s agricultural community,” said Governor Hogan. “This is a celebration of agriculture, but it is also about family. By passing down farming as a way of life from generation to generation, each of our honorees has played a significant role in securing agriculture as the leading industry in Maryland. Congratulations to all of the wonderful families being honored today.”
The Maryland Century Farm Program was established in 1994 by Governor William Donald Schaefer to recognize farms that have been in the same family for at least 100 consecutive years, contain a minimum of 10 acres of the original parcel, and have a gross annual income of $2,500 or more from the sale of farm products. The Century Farm Program honors families who have passed their farming operations down from generation to generation, making it possible for future stewards of the land to continue in their family tradition. The Hogan administration re-established this annual tradition in 2017 for Maryland farm families after it had been halted for 10 years, with the last ceremony being held in 2007.
“The best agricultural preservation program is an economically healthy agriculture industry, and the Century Farm families have been working for generations to keep agriculture prosperous throughout the state,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “The Century Farm families we honor today are the backbone of our rural communities and their legacy has stressed the importance of agriculture to Maryland and our economy.”
Maryland currently has 12,200 farms averaging 166 acres in size with a gross annual income of $2 billion.
The 2019 Century Farm designees are:
• Dean Acres (Centreville, Queen Anne’s County) — Currently owned by Donald Dean Sr. and Norma Dean, this 205-acre farm was originally purchased in 1900. Today, nearly all of the land is used for crops, primarily small grains including corn, wheat, and soybeans. In addition, the farm raises cows and hogs. The original home and barn were built in the early 1900s and are both still in use. Over the years, arrowheads, hatchets, and Native American pottery have been found on the property. This farm became part of the Conservation Reserve Program in 1997 and is still enrolled in the program today.
• L.T. Widdowson Farm (Princess Anne, Somerset County) — The L.T. Widdowson Farm is a 72-acre farm owned by Philip, Kevin, and Keith Widdowson since 1994. The property was purchased in 1903 by the current owners’ great-grandfather, Frank Widdowson. The farm is comprised of 60 percent cropland, 15 percent development, 10 percent pasture, and 15 percent woodland. The farm grows corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, and a variety of vegetables. They also raise sheep, goats, hogs, and poultry. The original section of the house was built in 1890 and is still standing. The original barn that was built in 1920 and the corn cribs that were built in 1923 are also still on the property. The farm has been a part of the forest management program since 2014.
• Miller Farms (Clinton, Prince George’s County) — Currently owned and operated by several members of the Miller family, this 252-acre farm was purchased in 1879 by Anton Miller. The property was originally 1 percent floodplains and 99 percent woodlands. Today, this property is comprised of 57 percent cropland, 8 percent development, 4 percent pasture, 10 percent woodland, and 20 percent is roads, ponds and barns. The oldest house on the farm was built in 1926 and is Cathy Miller’s private home. Over the years, eight more homes were built on the property along with a tobacco barn, straw barn, a fruit stand, equipment shed, and a meat house. Crops that have grown on the farm include tobacco, sweet potatoes, collards, kale, cabbage, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Some livestock raised on the farm include beef cattle, chickens, hogs, horses, and mules. The property has also been used for logging, agritourism, direct farm market, and as a bakery. The farm has been enrolled in the Nutriment Management Program since 2000 and has followed the department’s Good Agricultural Practices since 2010.
• Thomas Farm (Federalsburg, Caroline County) — This 64-acre farm is owned and operated by John and Freda Thomas. They obtained the property from John’s aunt, Helen Thomas, in 1997. Alvin Meredith originally purchased the property in 1908. The farm grows corn and soybeans and previously raised cattle. The property has been part of the Maryland Environmental Trust and Eastern Shore Land Conservancy Program since 2002.
• West Sherwood Farms, Inc. (St. Michaels, Talbot County) — The Burns family corporation has owned this 82-acre farm since 1935. Ernest and Thornton Burns, the grandfather and great-uncle of the current owners, originally purchased the farm in 1918. The farm continues to grow corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, and tomatoes and is a tall fescue pasture. Sheep and bees are also raised on the farm. The original house was built in the 1890s and is still in use. In the 1930s, an office/hatchery was built, followed by a second home in 1999 and an equipment shed that was added in 2007. Chickens and turkeys were the mainstay during the mid-1900s, and the farm was once a large producer of poultry with laying hens producing eggs that were then hatched on site. The farm is part of the soil and water conservation program, Nutrient Management Program, and Cover Crop Program. Additionally, West Sherwood Farms has been a part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program since 2009 and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program since 2017.
For more information on the Century Farm program, contact Jessica O’Sullivan at email@example.com or 410-841-5882.