Gov. Hogan recognizes state’s Century Farms
Hermitage marks 300 years
ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan honored Maryland’s farm families on Wednesday, Jan. 17 at the State House for their commitment to farming and leadership in preserving agricultural land by presenting Century Farm designations to 34 families from 18 counties who have farmed the same land for more than 100 years, including one family that has farmed the same land for more than 300 years and two families that have farmed the same land for more than 200 years. Since the program began in 1994, 173 farms — about one percent of the state’s 12,200
farms — have received the Century Farm designation. Four of those have received the Tricentennial Farm designation, and 26 have received the Bicentennial Farm designation.
“Maryland farmers are the backbone of our economy. The Century Farm families we honor today have played a significant role in making agriculture a leading industry in Maryland. I am committed to working with the entire farm community to keep farming sustainable and profitable in Maryland,” said Hogan.
The Maryland Century Farm Program was established in 1994 by Gov. William Donald Schaefer to recognize farms that have been in the same family for at least 100 consecutive years, contain a minimum of 10 acres of the original parcel, and gross an annual income of $2,500 or more from the sale of farm products. The Century Farm Program honors families who have passed their farming operations down from generation to generation, making it possible for future stewards of the land to continue in their family tradition. The Hogan Administration reestablished this annual tradition for Maryland farm families after it had been halted for the past 10 years. The last ceremony was held in 2007.
In Queen Anne’s County, The Hermitage, a farm belonging to Ben and Paige Tilghman was recognized as a Tri-Centennial farm. According to Tilghman, the farm was granted by Lord Baltimore, Charles Calvert in 1658.
The land grant was determined by Richard Tilghman inking his thumb and then placing it on the map in the area he wished to claim, explained Tilghman.
The farm has passed through many generations, but has never been bought nor sold, he said. Originally like the custom of English nobility the farm was passed to the first born son, in times that wasn’t the case, but it has always been in held by a direct descendant.
Tobacco and wheat were likely the first crops harvested on The Hermitage and from the turn of the century to the 1990s dairy was a staple of the farm, Tilghman said. Now corn, wheat, soybeans and geese and deer are the cash crops produced.
Tilghman said he is proud and delighted to have this recognition for his family, but hundreds of families in addition to the Tilghman’s have contributed over the years to the success of The Hermitage. Tilghman recalled the Great Depression and World War II, when “the men in our family were called to service many other families stepped in” to help preserve the workings of the farm.
“We were the ones [entrusted] to hold onto it, but in my lifetime dozens of families have contributed to its success,” said Tilghman.
Mary Helen Larrimore-Wolfe owns Security Neglect Farm in Centreville, recognized as a Centennial Farm. The 193-acre farm was bought in 1908 by her grandfather, James Harry Larrimore, said Mary Helen.
Her grandfather raised his family there, and his son, Larrimore-Wolfe’s father, raised his family there as well. Presently Larrimore-Wolfe’s grandson is living in the original house with his new bride.
Larrimore-Wolfe recalled the unusual name of the farm as being purchased originally from two brothers, hence the double name.
She also remembered the railroad tracks that ran at one time through the farm’ the tracks were in use until the 1940s or ‘50s.
Another local farm recognized as a Centennial Farm was the Cherry Blossom Farm in Church Hill. Currently the 261acre small grain operation is owned by Joseph George Taylor, Jr. The farm was purchased in 1900 from the James Coppage Estate.
Although designated as century farm, Taylor recalled that his great-grandfather purchased the farm from family, a pair of aunts, in 1900. The house was built in 1910 and various barns are still on the property, said Taylor. Incidentally, the original house burnt down, and Taylor’s greatgrandfather and his wife lived for a time in the loft of one of the barns.
Farms are not without hardships though, and Taylor’s biggest regret he said is that he will not be able to pass the farm to both of his grandsons. Joseph G. Taylor IV works now with his grandfather on the farm, but Taylor’s other grandson, Britton Samuel Burgess, who was also closely connected with Cherry Blossom Farm, passed away last March, Taylor said.
Cherry Blossom Farm hosts visitors from as far north as Maine and as far south as Florida, as they come appreciate the wildlife Queen Anne’s County as to offer, he said.
On attending the ceremony, Taylor said, “It takes a lot to get me to leave my farm, but it was worth it.”
“The best agricultural preservation program is an economically healthy agriculture industry,” said Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder. “Farming has formed the foundation of our nation’s economy for hundreds of years. The farm families we honor today are stewards of the land who have maintained family traditions and a continuity of agriculture important to our communities and our economy.”
The Hermitage, Queen Anne’s County
Cherry Blossom Farm, Queen Anne’s County
Security Neglect Farm, Queen Anne’s County