Flook family's Felfoot Farm has been held for generations

February 08, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

KEEDYSVILLE - When Austin Flook and his bride, JoAnne, came to live on Felfoot Farm in 1955, they were the third generation to farm the historic site, which was carved out of a 1737 land grant.

"Our son Dwayne Flook is fourth generation and his son, Logan Flook, will be the fifth," Austin Flook said.

So it's perhaps no wonder that the Flooks were honored with a Century Farm designation recently for their commitment to farming and leadership in preserving agricultural land at the family farm along Dogstreet Road east of Keedysville.

"We milked cows here for 42 years," Austin Flook said recently as he sat with his wife at the kitchen table in the 22-room farmhouse they have called home for 50 years.


While that seems like a long time, Austin Flook points out that Felfoot has been a working farm for more than 300 years.

The first Flook to farm the land was Martin Luther Flook, a lock repairman on the C&O Canal, who bought a portion of the original land grant and began farming it in 1904. His son John Jacob Harlan Flook bought the property in 1920.

John Flook's son Austin was born in Keedysville and lived there until he was 10. He moved to Boonsboro and returned to the family farm when he married.

"The house had no bathroom and no running water when we moved in," JoAnne Flook said. "We have fixed it up over the years. It's full of history."

Starting in the kitchen, the Flooks have outfitted that room with family heirlooms, traditional country antiques, collectibles and kitchen gadgets from yesteryear.

JoAnne Flook seems to think there might be just a little too much going on in the room.

But neither would have any idea where to start paring down any room in the house since every item is a treasure and has a story to tell.

Austin Flook said he was offered the opportunity to place the family farm in Washington County's Rural Legacy program a number of years ago.

"I debated it for a long time and decided it was the best way to go," he said.

Because of that designation, the Flook farm cannot be developed.

According to Eric Seifarth, Washington County land preservation administrator, the county's Rural Legacy area encompasses 37,000 acres from Antietam to South Mountain. The land was chosen both for its historical, agricultural and its environmental importance.

Now 72, Austin Flook and his wife, who is 68, still have a few steers, geese, guineas and horses. They plant and harvest hay and keep just enough chickens to provide the eggs they need.

Over the years and still on occasion, the Flooks have hosted children and adults from far and near at their farm. The visitors have gone on hayrides and participated in other activities that many city dwellers may never have experienced.

Austin Flook loves to tell stories about youngsters seeing their first cow up close or having the opportunity to ride on a farm tractor or hay wagon. There have been Girl Scouts, church groups and even U.S. Senate pages at the Flook farm.

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