Downes Warren family will be honored at fair
INGLESIDE — A family name can carry forward through many generations, which is where Downes Warren got his birth name. His given name is his paternal grandmother’s maiden name.
The Downes family established themselves in the Ingleside area in the 1800s. There is a road near Ingleside, Ell Downes Road, which was named after his forefather Eldridge Downes. The Warren side of the family was established in the 1600s in the Felton, Del., area. A long-standing tradition of farming on both sides of his family destined Warren to farm for a living.
Even though Warren was born and grew up in Felton, his father had always wished for him to farm in Queen Anne’s County because the soil was better.
He fondly remembers his childhood and his parents being very giving, he and his sisters being spoiled in a “good way.” His father would say, “children should be children and you’ll have plenty of time to work in your life.”
Warren’s mother was a school teacher and would always encourage him to read and learn from books and to discover what was out in the world. His father would not allow him to ride on the tractors when he was little. He told his son, “you’ll have
plenty of time to spend on those tractors, but not now.”
Asked if he kept any of the old tractors his father had, Warren laughed and said “No! They had no cabs or air conditioning and the nostalgia of old tractors went away very quickly.”
While growing up in Delaware, he helped his father on the farm tilling around 1,800 acres and traveled to Queen Anne’s to till the land they owned where he now lives. He and his parents purchased farms that had once been owned by the Downes family. His great-grandfather Steven Downes had three daughters, and each of them inherited a farm — one of them was his grandmother. His two great-aunts and his grandmother
helped guide Warren’s father and give him advice on how to operate the farms.
Over the years of operating the land in Delaware and Maryland, Warren and his father determined that new equipment was much more efficient and reliable. His father would say, “We can do more in one day, with new equipment, than what I could get done in a week with old equipment.” At a time when they were at their largest farming operation, they were tilling approximately 2,500 acres.
In 1980, Warren began farming the land in Queen Anne’s County and moved to his home farm in 1984. The home farm, where he stills resides, had no irrigation and no crop insurance. In 1985, Warren and his father decided to start changing farming practices by installing their first irrigation pivots.
“Till less, irrigate more,” was their new motto. “Farming is a challenge: the weather,
crop prices and marketing can all be in your favor and most of time not in your favor,” Warren said.
“My mother and father taught me many things, one of those is the love of reading books. My mother and father encouraged me to read and learn from what I had read. I carry a book with me in the tractor and truck, when I’m waiting in line to unload my crop, I read,” Warren said.
His father was so proud that Warren had an interest in the land and wanted to farm. He taught him, “surround yourself with good people and don’t worry about what people think of you, you know the truth.”
He keeps himself busy with keeping 14 irrigation pivots running, planting his traditional grain crops and diversifying the farm operation by planting spinach, peas and occasionally string beans.
Warren is a very humble person and was adamant about giving credit to his
friends and neighbors who helped him become successful. He said next door neighbors, the Higgs family, local friends Rod Cawley, Mike Bostic and business owner of Boyle Brothers, Gene Boyle, have all had a positive impact on the success of his farm. He believes in patronizing local businesses and keeping it humble.
Warren is very proud of his children, Downes III and Emily. Emily is in her first year of college at Delaware Valley and is majoring in agriculture. He hopes that Emily will keep her love of the farm and be successful in whatever field she chooses.
Though a quiet man, he is proud of what his family has been able to accomplish over many years of hard work and perseverance. He mentioned he sees some up and coming young farmers who he hopes will carry on the tradition as honest, hardworking stewards of the land.
Farmer Downes Warren will be honored during the county’s 4-H Fair in Centreville on Wednesday, Aug. 10.