The 161st Great Frederick Fair has come and gone, but the excellence of Frederick County’s agricultural community, showcased at the 2023 Ag Awards Ceremony, continues to captivate our attention. While we previously unveiled the award recipients, which you can explore here, we’re eager to dive deeper into each recipient’s story. Join us as we uncover the unique stories and exceptional contributions of our remarkable awardees. On behalf of the Agriculture Business Council in conjunction with The Great Frederick Fair and Ag Education PR Committee, we are honored to recognize Justin Tucker as Young Farmer of the Year.
Justin, the owner of Tucker Family Farm and Creekside Farms, was raised as the fifth generation on his family’s dairy farm in Jefferson. Under the guidance of his grandfather Wayne, he started learning to drive tractors as soon as he could reach the pedals. Despite his mother’s concerns, Justin was skillfully operating machinery independently by the age of seven, instilling in him a foundation of entrepreneurship, work ethic, and a deep passion for agriculture.
By the age of 18, Justin’s father Stan entrusted him with the management and control over the crop and feeding programs of the family dairy. Despite the weight of this responsibility, Justin’s ambition drove him to seek more. In 2009, at the age of 24, he embarked on an independent grain farming and custom farming venture, securing 350 acres of leased land and purchasing his first combine. Balancing the management of both the dairy’s programs and his personal enterprise, Justin successfully navigated this dual role for a decade. In 2019, the family made the heart-wrenching decision to sell the dairy herd after Stan succumbed to a lengthy battle with Multiple Myeloma. Amidst adversity, Justin seized an opportunity to expand his grain farming operation through the acquisition of the dairy’s land.
In 2020, Justin took advantage of the County’s Critical Farms program to purchase his family’s 200-acre farm in Knoxville. The farm was then transitioned into a permanent land preservation easement through the Maryland Agriculture Land Preservation Foundation. He currently farms approximately 1200 acres while managing a dedicated team of two full-time employees who play integral roles in farm operations as well as grain transportation. Justin willingly collaborates with the local soil conservation district, actively participating in sustainable farming practices. His initiatives include implementing best management practices and engaging in cover crop programming to safeguard soil health and minimize nutrient runoff. Recently elected to the Southern States Board of Directors, Justin continues to make significant contributions to the agricultural community. He was also featured in the County’s latest Farming Frederick video, “Driving a Combine” which you can view here.
Beyond his agricultural commitments, Justin embraces the roles of husband to Mary Kate and proud father to three daughters. He expresses gratitude to his parents Stan and Sandy for encouraging him to secure a loan in his early twenties. Their support led him into entrepreneurship and the growth of his independent grain farming operation as available land opportunities arose. Taking a measured approach, he initiated the business by renting equipment and outsourcing custom work until it generated sufficient capital for reinvestment. Justin advises fellow young farmers, “Do not be afraid of failure and resist the urge to grow too fast. Maintaining a healthy cash flow is crucial – prioritize practicality over flashy equipment.”
As we conclude the Ag Award blogs for 2023, we hope you will carry the inspiration of these honorees with you. Let their stories remind us that agriculture is a vibrant, evolving, and resilient industry, sustained by the hard work, innovation and unwavering dedication of those who cultivate the land and tend to livestock. Continue supporting Frederick County agriculture by visiting www.HomegrownFrederick.com and following our Facebook and Instagram.