MFB praises Palmer and Layton at banquet
CAMBRIDGE, Md. — Maryland Farm Bureau honored two individuals for extensive service to agriculture in the state and beyond during its annual banquet, Dec. 5.
Joseph Layton of Dorchester County received the Distinguished Service to Farm Bureau award and the Agri-Woman of the Year award was given to Frederick County’s Connie Palmer.
Layton studied vocational agriculture at North Dorchester High School and received a degree in agronomy at the University of Maryland College Park. Upon graduation, he returned home to join his father’s 450-acre grain farm.
The following year, Joe married Laura and they soon started a family and grew the farm to manage 1,880 acres.
In 2003, son William and daughter-in-law Jennifer, joined the farm and diversified the operaton into growing wine grapes and launching Layton’s Chance Vineyard and Winery in 2010.
Receiving the award, Joseph said a key part of his farming career has been public service and staying involved with agriculture organizations like Farm Bureau.
“I never considered it a burden,” he said. “It’s just as important to go to a Farm Bureau meeting as it is to stay at home and figure out what the market is doing or whether you’ll be able to spray tomorrow.”
Along with Farm Bureau, Layton has been active in many community and professional organizations, including the American Soybean Association, the Mid-Atlantic Soybean Association, the Maryland Soybean Board, the Dorchester Soil Conservation District, Dorchester Chamber of Commerce, Dorchester Board of Education and the Chicone Ruritan Club.
Layton was joined at the banquet by Laura, daughter Susan, William and Jennifer and said they were instrumental in helping him on and off the farm.
“Without these people I wouldn’t be standing here today,” he said. “Those are the ones who stayed home when I was gone all those days.”
Palmer grew up in the Middletown Valley area of Frederick County, helping on her grandparents’ farm. In 1956, her family moved to Thurmont, Md., and worked summers and after school on a farm, milking cows and doing field work. The family eventually moved back to Middletown and ran a farm raising chickens, pigs, beef cattle and a large garden.
While she still bristles at her main task on the farm tending the chickens, Palmer has been a lifelong advocate for agriculture education, Chris Catterton, Maryland Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee chairwoman.
“Connie’s true passion is agriculture education,” Catterton said. “She spends countless hours donating her time and talents to Farm Bureau, the Maryland Association of Agricultural Fairs and Shows, The Great Frederick Fair and the Pomona Grange.”
At the Great Frederick Fair, Palmer serves as the Farm and Garden Building’s superintendent, she serves on the Maryland Agricutural Fair Board and frequently judges 4-H and FFA competitions.
“Connie is a true promoter and advocate for agriculture and we are blessed to have her dedication and support,” Catterton said.