Author Archives: Becca Tucker

2022 Farm Family, Ag Business, Ag Advocate and Young Farmer of the Year

Glade Haven Farm

Glade Haven Farms is a diversified dairy, crop and custom harvesting operation located in Walkersville. The farm is owned and operated by father/son duo David and Josh Roderick along with their families and employees.

The farm was purchased in 1965 by David’s parents, Harold and Madeline Roderick, who started the dairy operation on the 275-acre homestead. David became a partner in the family business 15 years later. Josh cultivated a passion for equipment operation and mechanics at a young age. He rode alongside his father until he was able to drive a tractor by himself, and in 2000 joined his father as a partner on the farm.

The father and son farm, approximately 1,250 acres (375 of which is owned), thrives growing corn, soybeans, alfalfa, rye, and mixed hay for feed for their animals as well as cash crops for another source of income. The family milks just under 300 Holstein and Jersey dairy cows with their milk being shipped through Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association. To further diversify their farm operation they added a custom harvesting business providing services to other farmers in the community.

Also involved in this family operation are David’s daughter, Jichaela Cushall and son in law Nick, Kelcie Degenfelder, 8 full time employees, including Devin Green, Tommy Garst. David has four other children Jacquelyn, Jessica, Johanna and Julie who all have some involvement in the industry. David’s greatest joy is watching his grandchildren grow up on the farm.

Ag Business of The Year: Shuff’s Meat Market

Shuff’s Meat Market in Thurmont, currently owned by Robin Shuff, began in the early 1950’s by her father, Harry William Shuff Sr. Throughout the winters during Shuff’s Meats early stages, Mr. Shuff would travel around to local farms and slaughter on site in the farmer’s barn. He and his wife, Betty Jane opened the market, which is now operated by their daughter, Robin. In 1984 Mr. Shuff was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and succumbed to the terrible disease the next year following a short battle. Robin joined the business with her mother in 1996 and has been managing Shuff’s Meat Market ever since.

Robin described Shuff’s Meat Market as a family. She is grateful for the 12 employees that keep the business running smoothly. George Bowman is her partner and the vice president helping her to manage day-to-day operations. Pointing out that processing meat is not for the faint of heart, and Robin gives credit to the men doing the most laborious and crucial tasks including Brandon Beechum, Kyle Roberts and Ross Strayer. Shuff’s Meat Market is open to the public for retail sales Thursday-Saturday. The other days of the week staff work diligently to process the animals and meats. Currently they slaughter about 10-12 beef Monday and Thursday and 30 hogs on Tuesday.

Ag Advocate of the Year: Dr. Ray Edigar

Dr. Ray Edigar brings lifelong devotion to agriculture. He graduated from Washington State University in 1961 with a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. Over the years, he has dedicated countless hours to mentoring the development of agriculture in our youth specifically through the 4-H and FFA programs. It is his joy to work with the respectful, responsible young people he has the pleasure of mentoring. He is a strong advocate for encouraging the next generation to obtain a career in agriculture.

Dr. Edigar has been an active member and has held numerous leadership positions within the Frederick County Farm Bureau and Frederick Soil Conservation District. The accolades he has received are endless but include the 2012 Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award through the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association for outstanding leadership and service, the 2006 Maryland Most Beautiful People Award for outstanding volunteer work in the community, 4-H, church and other organizations, and University of Maryland Extension recognized Dr. Edigar for his service to Extension. Frederick County has been fortunate to have Dr. Edigar as an agricultural advocate, educator and mentor throughout the years.

Young Farmer of the Year: Ben and Kate Sowers

Our Young Farmers of the year are the second-generation, owners of South Mountain Creamery Ben and Kate Sowers. In 2001, South Mountain Creamery in Middletown became Maryland’s first on-farm milk processing facility when Randy and Karen Sowers diversified their dairy farm operation establishing a niche market to begin on-farm milk processing and delivery. Today, South Mountain Creamery has become one of the most well-known dairy farms operations in the DMV.

Ben and Kate became part owners of South Mountain Creamery in 2017. The pair own and operate the business with Ben’s sister Abby and her husband Tony. Over the years, the operation has expanded significantly. Ben and Kate currently manage 3000 acres of cropland, milk approximately 500 Holstein and Jersey dairy cows, raise a herd of 150 head of beef cattle and a flock of 17,000 laying hens. South Mountain Creamery operates two processing facilities, one on the home farm in Middletown, the other in Chambersburg, PA.  They also have a downtown Frederick Ice Cream and newly added Pizza shop! Between all locations, South Mountain Creamery employs roughly 165 individuals. While the owners collaborate within all aspects of the business, each member has specific areas of focus.

The Great Frederick Fair 2022

Wineries Breweries Distilleries Showcase

Looking to check out the best in Frederick County Agriculture? Then you don’t want to miss out on the 2022 Great Frederick Fair, September 16-24. From prize winning livestock, food, education and rides the fair has it all.

Don’t miss the Homegrown Frederick Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries Showcase located in Building 13. The showcase brings together the best in Frederick County craft beverage products to taste and purchase.

Hours:

  • First Friday 5PM–10pm
  • Saturday & Sunday 12PM–10pm
  • Monday–Friday 2PM–10pm

Participants:

  • Dragon Distillery
  • Fordham Lee Distillery
  • Idiom Brewing Co
  • Linganore Winecellars
  • McClintock Distilling
  • Monocacy Brewing Co/Brewers Alley
  • Olde Mother Brewing
  • Orchid Cellar Meadery and Winery
  • Puerto Rico Distillery
  • Rosie Cheeks Distillery
  • Smoketown Brewing Station
  • Tenth Ward Distilling Company

Meet local farmers and learn about their businesses and the products they sell at the Taste of Homegrown Frederick Booth in the City Streets Country Roads (Building 44).

Participants:

  • Sunday, Sept. 18 3-5pm- South Mountain Creamery
  • Monday, Sept. 19 6-8 pm- Valley Homemade and Homegrown
  • Tuesday, Sept. 20 6-8pm- Chestnut Hill Farm and Market
  • Wednesday, Sept. 21 6-8 pm- Clark Family Farms Fiber
  • Thursday, Sept. 22 6-8pm- Moo Cow Creamery
  • Friday, Sept. 23 6-8pm- Fox Haven Farm
  • Saturday, Sept. 24 3-5pm- Lilypons Water Gardens

On Friday September 16 at 7PM, help us recognize local farmers for their outstanding achievements in agriculture at the Agricultural Awards Ceremony.  Awards will be given to Farm Family, Agri-Business, Ag-Advocate and Young Farmer of the Year and Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professional​s.  The ceremony will take place in Bldg. 32 – South Mt. Creamery Large Arena.

Kate Sowers: Top Young Ag Professional

Kate Sowers

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Kate Sowers, 37, is a part owner of South Mountain Creamery and is named one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. Her experience in agriculture began at a young age in her local 4-H program. She was involved in a number of 4-H projects where her love for the industry began. In 2003, she married Ben Sowers, son of South Mountain Creamery founders, Randy and Karen Sowers. Since joining the family, Kate has continued to expand her involvement in the business. Now, as a part owner, Kate is responsible for managing the chicken house as well as bookkeeping for the enterprise. Aside from that, she is a mother of four and can often be found on the farm lending a hand to the staff wherever needed.

South Mountain Creamery is a diversified dairy farm operation that became the first on-farm dairy processing facility in the state of Maryland and today is one of the most recognized farms in the DMV, delivering products to approximately 10,000 customers. Kate owns the business with her husband, Ben, and Ben’s sister Abby Brusco and her husband Tony. They currently operate 3000 acres of cropland, milk approximately 500 Holstein and Jersey dairy cows, raise a herd of 150 head of beef cattle and a flock of 17,000 laying hens. South Mountain Creamery has two processing facilities, one on the home farm in Middletown, the other in Chambersburg, PA and a Downtown Frederick Ice Cream and newly added Pizza shop! Between all locations, South Mountain Creamery employs roughly 165 individuals.

Kate signifies South Mountain Creamery’s greatest business accomplishment as a successful purchase and transition from the previous generation to the next. She is also extremely proud of the expansions they have been able to accomplish under their ownership including the purchase of Trickling Springs Creamery, their processing facility in Chambersburg. Recently, during an awards ceremony at The Great Frederick Fair, Kate and her husband were recognized as Frederick County’s 2022 Young Farmers of the Year. The pair also received national recognition by being honored with the 2019 National Outstanding Young Farmer award given to those young farmers with outstanding achievements in agriculture and community involvement. Kate and her husband are active members of the community. Each year Kate donates to the Patty Pollatos Fund which raises money for local cancer victims. During Thanksgiving, she and her husband donate turkeys to the local elementary schools where they are then given to needy families.

The trait Kate most attributes to their success is, “Our willingness to push the envelope. If we don’t try, we’ll never know what we could do.” In her approach to work, she has been most influenced by her husband and mother. “They both work hard and do the job 110%,” she said.

We are proud to honor Kate as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like her at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Kate on this well-deserved accolade!

Emily Snyder: Top Young Ag Professional

Emily Snyder

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Emily Snyder, 30, is part of Rocky Point Creamery and a Relationship Manager for Farm Credit Express. She is named one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. Emily grew up with horses and in her local 4-H program. In high school, she bought her own beef cows which ignited her love for cattle. Later she began a retail beef business on her own. The herd was housed on a dairy operation and there she acquired some dairy cattle and a passion for the industry.

Today, at Rocky Point Creamery, Emily and her husband, Chuck, milk 100 cows robotically to create over 120 flavors of ice cream and farm about 600 acres of cropland. Emily enjoys helping in barns and caring for the cows and calves. At the creamery, she helps with product development, social media, customer relations, payroll and more. With her position at Farm Credit Express, Emily serves farm equipment dealerships in the MidAtlantic region.

Emily currently serves on the Frederick County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and the University of Maryland Alumni Board and is an active member of the Rotary Club and a proud member of the American Society of Agronomy. She enjoys supporting the development of youth in agriculture by helping with 4-H and FFA events throughout the year. Each year, Rocky Point Creamery holds a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital where 100% of the proceeds from their sunflower patch donations go to this amazing organization.

Emily says she started farming because of her love for animals and the outdoors and attributes her success to her hard work. She says, “You don’t have to be the smartest or strongest. Just put your head down and work…you’ll get ahead.” Emily says she is fortunate to have been surrounded by wonderful people her entire life. “I have to say, being a part of the agricultural community has shown me some of the smartest, toughest, most successful people I’ve ever come across. A lot of our farmers are self-made or have taken an operation that was making ends meet and made a wildly successful enterprise. Being privy to their minds has given me bits and pieces to meld together to make my own successes,” she says.

We are proud to honor Emily as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like her at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Emily on this well-deserved accolade!

Ali Sharifzadeh: Top Young Ag Professional

Ali Sharifzadeh

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Ali Sharifzadeh, 36, Co-Founder and CEO of District Farms, is named as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. District Farms is a commercial hydroponic greenhouse located in Frederick. It was founded in 2017 by Ali and two partners. Ali is a highly intelligent individual with a background in electrical engineering and law. A passion for wanting to help build a more sustainable food system arose and he left his patent attorney career to help bring a new type of farming, Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), to Frederick County. CEA systems generally take a technology-based approach to agriculture. They allow for optimal growing conditions and mitigate risk from weather changes while preventing disease and pest damage. CEA systems also provide the capability for year-round crop growing.

District Farms is one of the most advanced food production operations in the County and is on its way to being one of the largest vegetable growing facilities in the Mid-Atlantic. Since District Farm’s inception, Ali and the team have the goal to provide fresh, local, high-quality leafy greens to the entire Mid-Atlantic region. They saw an opportunity in this business venture as 95% of all leafy greens in the United States are produced in California and Arizona. Currently, Ali is leading a business expansion five times the size of the existing facility. The expansion is planned to be completed by late 2022.

Ali says he is most proud of, “successfully planning, constructing and operating a commercial greenhouse employing an advanced hydroponic growing system as well as continuing to expand our operations during the Coronavirus pandemic.” His colleagues and employees are appreciative of the positive workplace culture he has created at District Farms leading to employee satisfaction, retention and minimal turnover. In five years, Ali hopes to further expand the operation in the County and enter into other produce segments such as berries and vine crops.

We are proud to honor Ali as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals and appreciate what District Farms has brought to Frederick County. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like him at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Ali on this well-deserved accolade and follow along with District Farms on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about their unique and incredibly innovative business!

Katlyn Robertson: Top Young Ag Professional

Katlyn Robertson

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Katlyn Robertson, 25, is the Field Supervisor for Catoctin Mountain Orchard (CMO) and named as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. She is the fourth generation to be actively involved in the family operation comprising 100 acres of mixed fruits, berries and vegetables and a retail farm market located directly off Route 15 in Thurmont. Growing up on the farm alongside her grandfather and inspiration, Robert “Bob” Black, and learning how to farm at a young age prepared Katlyn for the responsibilities she now has. “Katlyn has been involved with the family business ever since she could walk. She was my right hand then and now, going to orchard tours, meeting new farmers and making a name for herself,” said Bob. Katlyn expressed gratitude for the opportunities she has been given and the knowledge passed on to her, especially from her grandfather. She is passionate and dedicated to continuing the family legacy and name and providing consumers with the best local, tasting fruits.

Katlyn wears many hats at CMO. She manages the highly successful u-pick blueberry, black raspberry, cherry and apple operations on the farm. Katlyn is responsible for bringing u-pick apples to CMO. Fall has always been the busiest time of the year, and Katlyn thought “what better way to bring in more customers than u-pick apples?” After research, visiting other pick-your-own-apple orchards and developing a business plan, Katlyn was approved to move forward and began operations in 2014. This piece of the operation has increased sales while bringing new customers to the farm. To this day, she signifies the u-pick apples as her greatest farm business accomplishment. Katlyn can also be found helping with field work, assisting customers and ensuring proper food safety within the business.

Katlyn is committed to advocating for agriculture in Frederick County and giving back to the community. CMO partners with Farm to School Frederick to supply fruits to the Frederick County Public Schools lunch program. Katlyn is passionate about and eager to teach children the importance of farms in our everyday lives. Every week from July to November, Katlyn sets up a small farmstand to sell produce at Homewood Retirement Center. Providing this service is one of her favorites because she is helping those who may not have the ability to go to the grocery store. She is an active board member for the Frederick County Farm Bureau and the Vice Chair for Frederick County Young Farmers. She also serves as the Vice Chairman for the State Horticultural Association of PA Young Growers Alliance and is a member of the International Fruit Trees Association where she was a recipient of the young professional scholarship in 2020.

Katlyn is an exemplary young woman in Frederick County’s agricultural community, and we are proud to honor her as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like her at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Katlyn on this well-deserved accolade!

Amy Jo Poffenberger: Top Young Ag Professional

Amy Jo Poffenberger

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Amy Jo Poffenberger, Agriculture Educator and FFA advisor at Catoctin High school, is named one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. She began her career in ag education with Frederick County back in 2005 and has been with Catoctin High School since 2009. Amy Jo is committed to educating her students on what agriculture is and how it affects their lives. She says, “I hope that the knowledge they gain in my classroom will help them to be informed consumers as they enter adulthood.”  At Catoctin, any student who is enrolled in an ag class is a member of their FFA chapter where she encourages them to be involved in events and activities outside the classroom. The Catoctin FFA chapter is visible in the community hosting an annual Ag Day at Sabillasville Elementary, facilitating demonstrations at the fair and sharing their knowledge at the Thurmont/Emmitsburg Community Show. During her time at Catoctin, Amy Jo has mentored three Maryland State FFA Officers and led over 20 students in achieving their American FFA Degree – which is the highest FFA honor awarded to students demonstrating their commitment to the organization and accomplishments in their supervised agricultural experience. This year Amy Jo is proud to announce she has five teams traveling to compete in events at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, two of her students will be earning their American FFA degree, and the Catoctin High School FFA will be nationally recognized as a two-star chapter. Of all the awards Amy Jo has received, she is most proud of the appreciation award presented to her by her students who have gone on to become Maryland State FFA Officers. She says, “These awards mean a lot to me because they came from students whom I worked hard to mentor, advise and encourage throughout their FFA career.”

Amy Jo spends much of her time volunteering with several organizations. Not only is Amy Jo the FFA advisor for Catoctin, but she has also been the Region 2 FFA Coordinator for the past seven years, and serves as the Frederick County representative on the Maryland FFA Board of Directors. Amy Jo is a member of the Frederick County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and is the chairperson for the Frederick County Safety Committee, which organizes a safety camp for children ages 8-13. This year due to COVID, they held a day camp in conjunction with an evening safety fair open to the public. The public safety fair included demonstrations and displays from Frederick County Fire and Rescue, the Sheriff’s Office and the Health Department, as well as animal and tractor safety and a live electrical demo from FirstEnergy. Amy Jo was also a member of the Frederick County Young Farmers where she held several leadership roles and is a lifetime member of the Frederick County Farm Museum, previously serving on their Board of Directors.

Amy Jo is quite a leading young woman in Frederick County’s agricultural community, and we are proud to honor her as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like her at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Amy Jo on this well-deserved accolade!

Karen Nicklas: Top Young Ag Professional

Karen Nicklas

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Karen Nicklas, 30, is named as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. Growing up as a dairy farmer’s daughter, she developed an appreciation and love for agriculture at an early age. Some of her most fond memories are from the days of milking cows alongside her father. That passion for farming led her to promoting the local agriculture industry and the hardworking individuals involved. 

Karen currently works as the General Manager for The Great Frederick Fair. She began her career with The Great Frederick Fair in 2013 and held various positions until being appointed General Manager in 2019. Karen’s current roll involves all aspects of the annual fair including animal showing, youth programming, educational exhibits, carnival, entertainment, security, parking and more. She is continuing her family’s legacy of service to the fair; her grandfather served on the fair board for 42 years, and her uncle in on the board now. In her role as the GM, she lives out her dream of working with all kinds of ag professionals. She is proud to help the fair continue to stay relevant while staying true to its mission of advocating for and educating the public about agriculture in Frederick County. In 2020, fair activities had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but The Great Frederick Fair was able to pivot and hold a Youth Livestock Show that was broadcast to viewers via social media. Then in 2021, “The Fair continued with the momentum and dedication to the youth in Frederick County by taking ownership and leadership managing all aspects of the 4-H/FFA shows,” Karen said. She is proud to be part of a team that overcomes adversity and gets creative to find ways to help develop local youth.

Earlier this year, Karen was also included in the Frederick County Office of Economic Development’s Top 50 Under 40 publication. Karen attributes her success to gratitude. She says, “I am genuinely thankful to be a part of the agricultural community in Frederick County and am blessed to have found my dream job with a great team. I think it is important to understand how valuable each team member is and trusting their contributions helps us all work cooperatively and achieve success.” Karen is also involved in a number of community organizations. As a member of the Frederick County Farm Bureau, she serves on the Safety Camp Planning Committee. She was appointed by the Governor to serve on both the Maryland Amusement Ride Safety Advisory Board and the Maryland State Showman’s League Association.

Karen is described by her colleagues as, “a professional, positive, outgoing young agriculture leader.” “There truly isn’t anyone who is more dedicated to agriculture. She has a work ethic that is unmatched and she leads by example.” We are proud to honor Karen as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like her at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Karen on this well-deserved accolade!

Matt Morris: Top Young Ag Professional

Matt Morris

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Matt Morris, 31, is named as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. Unique to many of those selected, Matt was not native to Frederick County, nor did he come from a deep-rooted farm family. Growing up in Prince George’s County, he found himself intrigued by and interested in farming. While helping a neighboring tobacco, grain and hay farmer, Matt got his first exposure to the industry and quickly developed a respect and love for the land. Realizing the challenge of starting his own agricultural operation from scratch, Matt made the decision to attend the University of Maryland to further his knowledge in Agronomy. He then went on to earn his Master’s degree in Weed Science to set himself up for a career in agriculture. Matt’s passion for agriculture has only grown since his initial experience working with his neighbor. After college, he found himself moving to Frederick County to pursue an opportunity to own his own herd of cattle. He worked for a local agri-services company for a short time, and then served Frederick County’s farming community as the Agricultural Extension Agent before accepting a full-time position as the Crop and Trucking Manager at South Mountain Creamery (SMC).

Matt wears many hats while working full-time for SMC. SMC is a 3,000-acre dairy, beef, crop, and poultry operation located in Middletown. He appreciates how no two days are the same and is involved with a variety of tasks including crop planting and harvesting, grain marketing, milk hauling and so much more. He is also a part owner/operator of Middletown Valley Beef, a grass-fed, feeder beef cattle operation. Matt’s greatest business accomplishment is having a beef cattle farming operation of his own. He is proud to have built a profitable business with his friend and partner. He says, “Despite not growing up on a farm family or even in Frederick County, I am able to live out my dream of owning and raising my own herd of cattle.”

Matt is well respected by the agriculture community, easily proven through his involvement. Most recently, he is excited to be elected to the Burkittsville Town Council. Matt is also a current member of the Board of Directors for the Frederick County Farm Bureau and the Maryland Grain Producers, and he served as an agricultural representative on the Frederick County Climate Emergency Mobilization Workgroup.

When asked who has influenced him the most in his work, Matt said, “My friend and the smartest person I know, Ben Sowers” (Ben is part owner of SMC). “The fact that farming is a passion, not a job for me” is the mentality that he attributes most to his success. Frederick County is fortunate to have passionate, hardworking young adults like Matt within the ag community to promote and support this vital industry for years to come.

We are proud to honor Matt as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like him at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Matt on this well-deserved accolade!

Emma Jagoz: Top Young Ag Professional

Emma Jagoz

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Emma Jagoz, 36, owner of Moon Valley Farm in Woodsboro, is named as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. Not only that, in January she was recognized as a young leader in the County’s agriculture industry in Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. She began her journey as a first-generation farmer on borrowed ground in Baltimore County in 2012. Approximately three years ago, Emma moved her operation to Frederick County and Moon Valley Farm has since become a staple and successful agricultural enterprise in the County. Moon Valley Farm operates under a year-round Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) model, producing both standard and specialty organic vegetables and herbs. For more information on signing up for their CSA, visit their website. The farm also grows produce for restaurants around the DMV, seedlings for gardeners, and partners with Farm 2 School Frederick to provide produce to the local school system. Follow along with Moon Valley Farm on Facebook and Instagram to see all that Emma is up to.

There is nothing Emma won’t do on the farm. She oversees all daily farm operations. You can often find her on the tractor doing farm work, leading team meetings, talking with customers and everything in between. Her peers describe Emma as, “the definition of professional leadership in agriculture.” She serves as a mentor to other new farmers across Maryland and partners with local farms to expand Moon Valley Farm’s CSA offerings. Emma is an active participant in Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, and has served as a keynote speaker at their annual conference. Emma says, “Farming organically and regeneratively and stewarding the land responsibly has the power to make a real difference in the health of our waterways and to improve the Chesapeake Bay.” She is committed to doing her part and educating others on the importance of sustainable agriculture practices.

Emma is grateful to be a recipient of The Frederick County Agricultural Innovation Grant. She has received funds for an irrigation system, salad spinner as well as essential upgrades to help Moon Valley Farm become Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified. The behavioral trait she attributes most to her success is her gratitude. “Every day I take time to list things that I am grateful for and it really helps me put my life and the unexpected things that crop up into perspective. There’s always something to be grateful for if you’re looking,” she says.

We are proud to honor Emma with Moon Valley Farm as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like her at the helm. Be sure to congratulate her on this well-deserved accolade!