Fleming a farm-grown ag proponent
LINKWOOD, Md. — In the late 1970s, a group of farmers came together to form the American Agriculture Movement in an attempt to organize a strike to raise awareness of the importance of the American farmer.
Some of these farmers drove their tractors all the way to Washington, D.C., blocking traffic in protest.
Among this group was Edward Breckenridge “Breck” Fleming II, a Dorchester County farmer who inspired his son not only to be a farmer, but to continue to take a leadership role in his community.
In childhood, Edward Breckenridge “Chip” Fleming III, was always his father’s shadow on the farm — which is how he got the nickname “Chip,” because he was known as a “chip off the ol’ block.”
“I’ve been on the farm all my life,” Chip said. “Every time I had the chance, I was riding with my grandfather, my dad or my uncle, Bill Fleming, watching and paying attention to everything that was going on and why the equipment was doing what it did and why things were doing what they did as it was happening. I didn’t have any interest in sports, I just wanted to be their shadow.”
The farm held Chip’s fascination as a child, and led him to a career in farming.
A newspaper clipping of his father holding a 14-month-old Chip on the day of the organized strike in the 1970s is framed in his office today, commemorating his father’s desire to keep agriculture a driving economic force on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
“One day when I was 7 years old, dad said, ‘this doesn’t make any sense! I’m sitting here driving and you’re sitting on the fender watching me. You know how to do this,’” Chip said.
Chip recalled with excitement, his dad leaving him on thay John Deere 4020 cultivator tractor with an umbrella and fender-mounted radio, cultivating about 150 acres of soybeans that day.
“I remember my mother being livid when she came to bring us lunch because she was expecting to see my dad on one tractor and my uncle on the other, but that’s not how it was,” Chip said. “She was upset for a while!”
But his father didn’t want farming to be the only thing Chip knew, and at his insistence, Chip attended State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill, and earned a degree in Agricultural Engineering.
“I was fascinated by it, and just have a passion for it as well,” Chip said. “You grow up into farming and don’t realize it’s what you want full-time. Farming is a very gratifying lifestyle; it’s a rewarding and pride driven business.”
Immediately after college Chip went right to work with a dealership as a service tech on combines and seeding and harvesting equipment, a skill that he said still comes in handy to this day on his own farm.
Now Chip farms about 1,500 acres of corn, Certified Organic corn, soybeans and wheat; as well as serving as vice president of the Dorchester Farm Bureau, and is also a University of Maryland Extension LEAD Maryland Foundation Fellow.
“While dad was alive, I’d lean on him about some things to try; but as I got older I found he valued my opinion more towards the end of his life,” Chip said. “After Dad passed, I used to stop and think, ‘what would Dad do?’ But I had to get away from that because I’m a little more of a risk taker than he ever was. If I based all of my decisions on what he might do, I might not be where I am today.”
Chip said he’s always thinking ahead to what he can undertake next. In 2008, with the purchase of 270 acres of farmland along U.S. Route 50 the vision of a family adventure park was born.
It was then that he birthed Breckenridge Adventures, which offers activities like a 9-acre interactive corn maze, u-pick pumpkin patch, pedal cart racing, and even paintball amongst a variety of other things on the 25 acres of activity.
“I want to offer my community simple entertainment, an alternative to electronics,” he said. “To use your mind and enjoy yourself on a day trip.”
Chip’s wife, Jennifer, handles nearly all the aspects of Breckenridge Adventures, he said, which includes Linkwood Landing a small mobile home park located at the back of this farm.
“All this started because I had a couple extra hours in the week,” he said with a laugh.
Much like his own father, Chip would like to see his son, Breck, who carries the family name as Edward Breckenridge Fleming IV, go to college and experience more of what the world has to offer.
“I want Breck to go to college and get a degree, he needs to know more than just driving tractors and running equipment,” Chip said. “I’d be excited if he wants to pursue farming and take over the business, but if his passion is for something else, I don’t want to sway him.”
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