Poster farm family' honored for its efforts

Award: The Schwartzbecks are the first Carroll family to be inducted into the Maryland Agricultural Hall of Fame.

February 06, 2000|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

The Schwartzbeck family of Union Bridge was inducted into the Maryland Agricultural Hall of Fame at a banquet Thursday night at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie.

Joseph and Nona Schwartzbeck, their sons Gus and Shane and daughters-in-law -- both named Lisa -- are the first family from Carroll County to be chosen for the annual award begun in 1991.

"They're a poster farm family," said state Sen. Larry E. Haines, a Carroll County Republican. "They're an ideal example of agriculture working in the state."

"I was thrilled -- I was really emotional," said Nona Schwartzbeck. She said her family was notified two weeks ago so everyone could attend the banquet when the award was announced.

"I was so glad we could all be there because it took those sons to help win that," she said of Gus and Shane. "Farming is a family operation. At least here, it is."

The award is meant to recognize farm success and community contribution. The Schwartzbecks are known throughout the county's farm and 4-H community for their participation in the Carroll County 4-H Fair.

Every year, Nona Schwartzbeck pulls together a crew of volunteers to cook farm-style meals at the fair kitchen to feed judges and sell to the public. Nona Schwartzbeck and her husband also have judged Carroll and other county fairs.

The family has been featured in a U.S. Department of Agriculture book on family farms and in a television documentary on women in agriculture.

In addition to farm activities, the Schwartzbecks have been active volunteers and PTA members at Elmer Wolfe Elementary School and New Windsor Middle School, where their children attended and grandchildren are beginning to attend.

At their Peace and Plenty Farm on Bark Hill Road, they milk 150 dairy cows.

Joe, 58, and Nona, 55, bought their farm in 1968. Each had grown up in Montgomery County, where Nona's parents and Joe's grandparents had farms. They named their new farm after the original land grant for the property Joe's family owned.

When they bought their farm in Carroll, they had cows in the barn before the county would grant them an occupancy permit for the house they were building, so the young couple commuted from Montgomery County to milk their cows every 12 hours.

The induction banquet was especially meaningful because the Schwartzbecks saw some old friends from around the state, Nona Schwartzbeck said.

"My old 4-H agent from Montgomery County was there last night," she said. She spotted Roscoe Whipp, a retired Montgomery County 4-H agent for the Maryland Cooperative Extension, and made a point to recognize him at the podium when she accepted the award.

"He was so tickled," she said.

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