UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Agricultural leaders from five states honored five family farm operations from Pennsylvania and one from Maryland with 2005 Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer Awards.
The awards were presented during a ceremony March 21 in Harrisburg.
This year’s Pennsylvania winners are Thomas Kelly of Tyrone; James Rodichok and family of Tower City; John Stump of Bernville; Leonard Tate of Gardners; and Jeffrey Werner of Jonestown.
Franklin and Bess Gladhill of Monrovia were the Maryland honorees.
About the awards. The winners were selected from among 19 applicants and nearly 200 nominees from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania
Judges rated and chose the winners for their successes in progressive business management, responsible use of resources and exemplary civic leadership.
Judges for this year’s competition were Robert Bruch, coordinator of rural development services for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture; Robert Frazee, CEO of Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit; and Daney Jackson, director of Penn State Cooperation Extension.
The Master Farmer program is one of the nation’s oldest and longest running agricultural honors programs, dating to 1927.
The award is co-sponsored by American Agriculturist magazine, Penn State Cooperative Extension and the cooperative extension programs of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and West Virginia.
With this year’s crop of Master Farmers, 608 men and women have been tapped for the award.
The current count by state: Delaware, 12; Maryland, 42; New Jersey, 25; Pennsylvania, 509; and West Virginia, 18.
Tom Kelly. Kelly was raised on a dairy farm and graduated from Penn State with a minor in dairy science. He and his wife, Margaret, operate Spring Lane Farm in Blair County, Pa.
The couple borrowed money from Farmers Home Administration and the Federal Land Bank to purchase the original 174-acre farm. Three other tracts were added over time with profits from milk, young sires, heifers and embryos.
Last fall, after 30 years in the dairy business, the couple dispersed their 85-cow registered Holstein herd and are transitioning the 390-acre farm to a combination of crops and game farm hunting preserve.
Kelly has held many leadership roles in agriculture and his local community. He is currently chairman of the Pennsylvania Holstein Association’s resolutions committee, a director of Ag Choice Farm Credit and vice chairman of AgFirst Farm Credit Bank.
Jim Rodichok. Jim Rodichok started farming in Schuylkill County, Pa., with a small dairy herd. With the help of wife, Elaine, and their children, the operation grew to a 150-cow herd and 640 acres of farmland, then to a full-service farm and market.
To make room for three daughters and two sons, they began using plasticulture and trickle irrigation to grow more vegetables, watermelons and cantaloupes.
In 1994, the cattle were sold and the barn was converted into the present farm market. Growing and retailing greenhouses were added along the way. Then came festivals, a bakery and a gift shop featuring seasonal products year-round.
John Stump. John Stump knows one of the best kept secrets in agriculture – how to keep your children interested in farming. This Berks County, Pa., dairyman and his wife, Rita, have three children farming with them, and two more of their six children also are getting involved.
After his father died in 1949, Stump quit high school in 11th grade to help his brother run their mother’s farm. The two farmed together until 1963 when John purchased his current farm.
Today, Stumpland Farm covers 650 acres, all dedicated to raising feed for the farm’s 80-cow registered Holstein milking herd and replacement animals.
Despite two devastating barn fires in 1984, their business recovered, primarily through family labor. Their registered Holstein genetics have sent 11 bulls to stud services. They also raise bulls for lease and sale to other breeders.
Leonard Tate. Leonard Tate knows all the challenges of the fruit industry. That’s one reason why this Cumberland County, Pa., farmer holds costs down with integrated pest management, well-maintained older equipment and one full-time employee.
After high school graduation in 1968 and a tour in the U.S. Navy, he worked for a neighboring fruit grower and helped his mother manage his parent’s fruit farm, which he purchased in 1976.
Since then, Leonard Tate Orchards has grown 210 owned and rented acres of apples, peaches, nectarines, pears and plums.
Intensive block management, new varieties, dwarf root stock, irrigation pond expansion and close tracking of production have greatly helped to reduce the farm’s debt – despite losing 30 of 34 acres of peach trees to the plum pox eradication program.
His wife, Pamela, knows the business, but teaches school full time. Tate serves as fruit grower advisor to the Cumberland County Farm Service Agency and co-manages the Adams County Fruit Grower’s Restaurant during its spring and fall events.
Jeffrey Werner. After starting out on his father’s dairy in Lebanon County, Pa., Jeffrey Werner joined the family partnership and helped grow the business.
In 1984, he married his wife, Sue. In 1993, children of their own coming on, Werner and his brother decided to split their land and farm separately, but share equipment and services.
Today, Werner Acres covers 350 acres of rented and owned land and produces 86,000 turkeys a year under contract with Pilgrims Pride.
Werner is president of the Pennsylvania Corn Growers Association, president of Swatara Township Planning Commission and serves on a PennDOT advisory committee for the Lebanon County Planning Commission.
Franklin and Bess Gladhill. Two years after marrying in 1948, Franklin and Bess Gladhill bought their first farm and 20 dairy cows in Frederick County, Md.
In 1996, their dairy cows were replaced with a small beef brood cow herd, giving both more time to devote to community activities.
The Gladhills have long been leaders in agriculture and in the greater community.
STAY INFORMED. SIGN UP!
Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!