Hogan welcomes five new families into Maryland’s club of Century Farms
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Five more families joined last week Maryland’s roster of Century Farms honoring operations that have been producing on the same land for more than 100 years.
The farms — four from the Eastern Shore and one from Prince George’s County — bring the total of Century Farms in the state to 187, about 1 percent of Maryland’s 12,200 farms.
Together, they “represent the very best of agriculture,” Gov. Larry Hogan said during a ceremony in the State House on Jan. 22.
“The families that we are honoring today are taking their place within a very elite and increasingly rare group of farm families,” he said. “Such a remarkable achievement deserves to be recognized and applauded.”
Miller Farms, a Clinton, Md., vegetable operation founded in 1879, was the oldest farm honored. Nearly 30 Miller family members helped pack the governor’s receiving room, including Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, who stunned the state’s political community when he announced he was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this month.
Miller, a 76-year-old Democrat from Southern Maryland and the country’s longest-serving Senate president, entered the room with the aid of a cane and was warmly greeted by Hogan and family members before the ceremony’s start. Hogan survived his own bout with stage three non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2015, and after months of chemotherapy was declared cancer-free the following year.
“Mike, my thoughts are with you. I’m pulling for you. I’m praying for you. Mike is a tough guy. I can attest to that,” Hogan said to chuckles from the audience. “My hope is that — and my prayers are — that he’s going to come out stronger than ever.”
Several family members own Miller Farms, a 252-acre operation that was initially almost entirely woodlands, according to the state agriculture department. The family now faces the challenge of keeping the farm within the family, said Phil Miller, 65.
“It’s going to be very difficult now because there’s so many owners to it, and nobody has the money to buy each other out,” he said.
Other honorees included Dean Acres, a 205-acre grain and livestock farm in Centreville owned by Donald and Norma Dean and originally purchased in 1900; L.T. Widdowson Farm, a 72-acre grain, vegetable and livestock operation in Princess Anne owned by Philip, Kevin and Keith Widdowson and originally purchased in 1903; Thomas Farm, a 64-acre grain operation in Federalsburg owned by John and Freda Thomas and originally purchased in 1908; and West Sherwood Farms Inc., a diversified, 82-acre operation in St. Michaels owned by the Burns family and originally purchased in 1918.
The Century Farm program, launched by former Gov. William Donald Schaefer in 1994, honors farms that have been in the same family for at least a century, contain a minimum of 10 acres of the original parcel and have a gross yearly income of at least $2,500 from the sale of farm products. The ceremony was discontinued for a decade starting in 2007. Hogan reestablished it in 2017.
“It’s a celebration of agriculture, but it’s also really about families, by passing down farming as a way of life from generation to generation, and each of the five honorees that we’re honoring today has played a significant role in continuing to keep agriculture as a leading industry in Maryland,” he said.
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