Governor Martin O'Malley Inducts Two Farm Families into Maryland's Agriculture Hall of Fame
GLEN BURNIE, MD (February 5, 2009) – Governor Martin O’Malley today joined more than 800 agricultural leaders and legislators from across the State to induct two farming families into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame. The Harry Black Family of Frederick County and the Griffith Family in Anne Arundel County became the 36th and 37th recipients of the prestigious recognition during the annual Maryland Agriculture Dinner at Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie. Department of Agriculture Secretary Roger L. Richardson joined Governor O’Malley during the presentation.
“It is my honor to stand beside the Blacks and the Griffiths tonight to recognize their outstanding accomplishments, commitment and contributions to agriculture, family and community,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “In honoring these two families, who represent more than a century of farming in Maryland, we also honor the dedication and hard work of every farmer in this state. We count on their continued partnership as together we shape a more sustainable agriculture.”
During his remarks this evening, Governor O’Malley focused on working together to strengthen Maryland agriculture and, at the same time, create a more sustainable Maryland and improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. He noted that the real threats that endanger Maryland’s precious national resources do not vanish in times of recession, and therefore to protect the important progress made on environmental protection during his administration, the proposed budget includes full funding of Program Open Space at $31.9 million and investment of $27.6 million for Agricultural Land Preservation. In addition, the budget proposes $25 million for the Chesapeake 2010 Trust Fund, $164.5 million in Bay restoration funds, and a record $17.7 million for cover crops.
He maintained a strong commitment to the State’s investment in MARBIDCO – the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation with $2.75 million to support young farmers who are trying to buy or lease farmland, and start-up enterprises that need help with rural business financing. Governor O’Malley also pledged to work with agricultural leaders to enhance the profitability of farming in Maryland, ensure an adequate base of well-managed agricultural land, and advance research, education, and the advocacy of agriculture.
“All of Maryland agriculture has benefited from the contributions of the Black and Griffith families, and we are honored to welcome them into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame,” said Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Roger Richardson. “Through their efforts, both families have accomplished a great deal to advance agriculture, support their communities, and encourage young people to get involved in farming.”
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.
Brief slideshows featuring each of the new Agriculture Hall of Fame families are available at: http://remsberg.com/mda .
The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), through its programs and services, preserves and protects agricultural resources and the environment, promotes profitable agriculture and consumer confidence, and enhances the quality of life for all Marylanders. Established in 1973, the MDA is celebrating over 35 years of service to the citizens of Maryland.
Biographies of and testimonials about the families
The Black family operates the 175-acre Catoctin Mountain Orchard in Thurmont, Frederick County, and produces and market 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, Maryland Cooperative Extension, The Great Frederick Fair, Maryland Agriculture Dinner, Thurmond-Emmitsburg Community Show, fire companies and the Governor and General Assembly each legislative session.
Testimonials about the Blacks
“The Black family operation is a prime example of direct marketing agriculture. Their progressive approach to retail sales has made them one of the best orchard operations not only in Maryland, but on the East Coast. Even through their success, they remain a humble family oriented operation that is always there to offer a helping hand or at least a basket of fruit. I can think of no other farm more deserving of this honor. Congratulations!”
— Colby Ferguson, Business Development Specialist – Agriculture, Frederick County Office of Economic Development
“When I think of Catoctin Mountain Orchard and the Harry Black Family, I think of quality fruit and produce grown by an innovative, friendly, generous, and community-minded family.”
— Stanley W. Fultz, County Extension Director and Extension Agent, Dairy Science, University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, Frederick County Office
“This family farming operation in northern Frederick County is very thoughtful for their fellow mankind. It never seems a time where they are not without that basket of fruit from their operation to be shared with others. Just this past month, this operation helped with the food necessary to help feed people who were building a house for a family in need in southern Pennsylvania for the national TV show, ‘Home Makeover’ that will be aired soon. They did this not from being asked, but because they felt it was just the thing to do. I congratulate Catoctin Mountain Orchard on this award and am proud to say they are one of Frederick County's assets.”
— Gareth W. Harshman, Frederick County Farm Bureau President
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. Upon taking the tobacco buyout in 2002, 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. The entire family, including Jeffrey’s wife Chris and children Kayla and Jeffrey assist with the operation. 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 numerous conservation practices including strip crops, terraces, contours 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 county and state 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.”
The Griffiths are actively involved with their community and have held leadership positions with Anne Arundel County Farm Bureau, Southern Maryland Agricultural Commission, Maryland Agriculture Council, Anne Arundel County Agricultural Land Preservation, USDA Farm Service Agency, Maryland Agricultural Commission, Anne Arundel County Soil Conservation District, Southern High School PTSA, Anne Arundel County Fair, Maryland Tobacco Improvement Foundation, Colonial Farm Credit, Maryland Tobacco Authority, Southern States Grain Board, USDA National Tobacco Inspection Committee, MDA’s Board of Review, Anne Arundel County Dairy Farm Advisory Committee, Maryland Farm Bureau, Anne Arundel/Prince George’s Grain Marketing Club, Anne Arundel South County Small Area Planning Board.
Testimonials about the Griffiths
“The Griffith family exemplifies the commitment of four generations embodied in a successful and diversified family farming operation. Their leadership, innovation and stewardship are an inspiration to us all. Earl was also recently recognized by his peers as the first Master Farmer in Anne Arundel County. I extend my congratulations to the entire family as they are well-deserving of this prestigious honor.”
— R. David Myers, Extension Educator, Agriculture, Anne Arundel County
“The Griffiths have been heavily involved in representing agricultural interests through the county Farm Bureau and other organizations for many, many years. Their commitment to advancing and defending agriculture interests can be matched by few. It has been my real pleasure and honor to know them and to work with them through the Farm Bureau over the years.”
-- W. Michael Phipps, President, Maryland Farm Bureau
"The Griffiths have a life-long multi-generational commitment to agriculture in Anne Arundel County. They give back to their community through the county Farm Bureau, of which Jeff is the president, his wife Chris is the Secretary and Earl and Lillian have a long affiliation. With the development pressures farmers face today, the Griffiths are some of the finest examples of maintaining an agricultural business in this economic climate." - Edward R. Reilly, Chairman, Anne Arundel County Council, District 7.