Weddles accept Farm of the Year award

August 27, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • Four generations of the Weddle family heard Saturday that their farm, 111-acre Creek Bound Farms of Hagerstown, was named Farm of the Year by the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

Jim and Bonnie Weddle weren't sure they'd make it to their own celebration.

Without dedicated employees taking on an important project on Saturday, they'd have had to stay home and work, they said.

The Weddles, who run Creek Bound Farms on Poffenberger Road south of Funkstown, received this year's Farm of the Year award at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

They raise dairy replacement heifers, grow crops and do custom farm services. They own 111 acres and rent or lease 2,000 acres, according to their application.

This is the first time Washington County, through its economic development commission, has chosen a Farm of the Year.

Leslie Hart, an EDC agriculture marketing specialist, said the state has farming awards, but Washington County needed one, too.

The Farm of the Year award is based on conservation, preservation and the use of technology in new practices, Hart said.

This year's runner-up was Big Cork Vineyards in Rohrersville, where J. Randall Thompson recently started a vineyard and wine-making business on his family farm. Until the first grapes are ready, the farm is selling fruits and vegetables.

Big Cork is using cover crops between rows of grapes to cut down on weeds and the use of herbicides. It also has raptors and barn owls to get rid of moles, mice and groundhogs.

The Weddles bought their farm from Bonnie's father, John Shank, in 1980.

Bonnie said she grew up in dairy farming and her husband's family had horses.

Their son, Jeremiah, is a partner in Creek Bound Farms. He and his wife, Janelle, have twin 3-year-old sons, Noah and Eli. (At Saturday's celebration, the boys wore shirts that read: "Will trade brother for tractor.")

Their daughter Jamie works with them, too, although she and her husband, Christopher Derr, have Valley Ho Farm in Middletown, Md.

"Family and farming go hand in hand," Bonnie Weddle said after Saturday's award presentation. "We're blessed to have that responsibility and it is a blessing. We really enjoy it."

Jim Weddle said farming lets him be his own boss while running machinery, making repairs and raising healthy animals.

"The biggest thing is you get up in the morning, you get to go out and be among nature all day," he said. "Sometimes, we're so busy, we don't take the time to appreciate that. But once in a while, you stop and see something."

For Weddle, that special moment was seeing a bald eagle swoop down recently, grab a rabbit and fly off.

"That made my month. It made my year," he said. "To see that happen on my farm. You don't see that every day in an office building."

"You really feel close to your creator when that's what in charge of your lifestyle and your income," Bonnie Weddle said.

On Friday, they delivered a calf on their farm. The grandkids were thrilled.

"There's no other way to teach a 3-year-old when a calf comes from," she said. "Those lessons are invaluable."

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