Category Archives: Women in Ag Spotlight

Looking for Sod? Bullfrog Sod can help!

Allie Bennett

There’s a new sod farm in town!

Just over a year ago, following a dream, the Bennett and Killian families purchased the well-known Chuck Wade Sod Farm property in Adamstown. Today, the business is known as Bullfrog Sod. Recently we visited the farm and spent some time with owner/operator Allie Bennett to learn about the family and operation.

Allie, a native of New Jersey, spent many years living in New York City. However, this city girl always had the itch to move to the country and dreamt about raising her family on a farm. She and her husband, Andy, a local agricultural insurance agent, ended up moving down the road from Chuck Wade Sod Farm and always admired the property. When the property hit the market, the couple, along with Allie’s parents Steve and Suzanne Killian (who then lived in Herndon, VA) jumped on the opportunity. The two couples decided to go into business together and become sod farmers. “We are proud to uphold the farm’s long-standing tradition of close customer relationships, consistent communication and of course, top quality sod,” Allie says.

Did you know that not only can sod be harvested and laid in the winter, but it can also be beneficial to do so? What better time than the present to beat the spring landscaping rush and create a beautiful lawn now for holiday gatherings? Bullfrog Sod uses a mixed seed sod blend that is 90% Tall Fescue and 10% Kentucky Bluegrass. This cool-weather grass blend can withstand cold temperatures and simply goes dormant during the winter. Allie is proud to produce high-quality sod that is completely Maryland Certified! That means their products are produced under the supervision/inspection of the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Generally, certified products do not contain weeds and have a lower instance of insect and disease problems.

Bullfrog Sod is a true family affair with three generations involved. Allie loves living next to and working alongside her parents. She and Andy also love the opportunity to give their young boys (ages 3 and 1 ½) the experience of learning about and growing up in agriculture. The sole non-family employee, John, has become just like family, says Allie. He is their on-farm sod expert helping to keep the sod healthy year-round. Allie and her family are excited about this venture and appreciate the opportunity to serve the local community in their sod needs. Contact Allie directly at the information listed below to learn more about laying sod this winter. Be sure to visit their website to learn more about how to purchase from Bullfrog Sod and follow along with their Instagram and Facebook pages. (If you’ve never seen a sod cutter in action, make sure to check out their videos because that machine is incredible!) 

Sod cutter

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Allie Bennett
Chief Operating Officer
Bullfrog Sod, LLC
(301) 662-0736
allie@bfsod.com

As always, if you’re looking for a specific local farm product, head to our website where you can search for local ag and craft beverage products!

Puerto Rico Distillery: Built on Hispanic Heritage

Puerto Rico Distillery

As we wrap up National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), we are highlighting a business that encompasses Hispanic heritage in all that they do: Puerto Rico Distillery. October is also National Women’s Small Business Month, which is the perfect opportunity to highlight part-owner Crystal Rivera.

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning, Crystal and her parents were opening Puerto Rico Distillery on Hughes Ford Road in Frederick. The heart of the business is rooted in Puerto Rican culture and tradition. The foundation of their distillery is Pitorro or Puerto Rican moonshine. This clear rum, distilled from sugar cane byproducts, has a distinctive flavor that differs from other rums many are accustomed to. Base Pitorros are then blended and flavored by adding fresh or dried fruits and other flavors. Flavoring blends soak anywhere from days to weeks, months, or even years (for those extremely patient distillers.)  Similar to the popularity of home brewing in the U.S., making and blending Pittoro is common in Puerto Rico. Culturally, Pitorro is enjoyed straight, sipping while socializing. Around holidays like Christmas, friends and family gather and share their blends (hoping to be the favorite!)

Prior to owning the distillery, Crystal worked for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ProStart program. ProStart, which Crystal participated in as a student, is a high school culinary arts and restaurant management program. The experience and knowledge she gained from her time with ProStart prepared her to open her own business. Crystal Rivera Following Hurricane Maria, while living in Columbia, Maryland, Crystal and her parents’ dream to open a distillery true to their Puerto Rican roots began to blossom. While she loved her work with the non-profit, Crystal wanted something more for herself and to be more involved in her culture. While deciding on a location, they found themselves visiting Frederick often, loving the vibe and supportive community. They took a leap of faith, went with their gut, as Crystal said, and fortunately for us, chose Frederick as home!

“Everything Puerto Rico Distillery does is deliberate,” Crystal said.  Everything from their décor to the tank names help bring a slice of Puerto Rico to Frederick.  They stay true to their roots “Puerto Rican Born. Maryland Made” and are committed to sourcing products from both Puerto Rico and Maryland. They are passionate about staying true to their Hispanic heritage and being able to offer the Puerto Rican community this traditional spirit that many find nostaligic. Crystal is eager to educate the community about the culture and history of Pittoro.

Puerto Rico Distillery has made a valiant effort to give back through charitable donations. Tasting proceeds for the entire 2022 year have been devoted to La Goyco, specifically to La Casa de la Plena founded by their late dear friend Tito. La Goyco is a non-profit organization in Puerto Rico that supports artisans and traditions. They also operate a community center, provide refrigeration to the public for medications and necessities if they lose power, administer workshops and so much more.

Puerto Rico Distillery currently offers 10 flavors of their Clandestino Pitorro. The distillery’s permanent flavors include Traditional (a favorite and family recipe flavored with raisins, prunes and cranberries), Almond (using almond extract brown sugar and honey from the University of Maryland), Coconut, Pineapple and Coffee. Others available at this time include Coconut Chai (very popular, get yours while it lasts!), Kiwi, Passion Fruit and Tamarind. Visit Puerto Rico Distillery for products or check out other locations and ways to purchase on their website. Make sure to follow Puerto Rico Distillery’s Facebook and Instagram pages to keep up with their business!

For more ways to support local Hispanic-owned businesses and resources available to Hispanic entrepreneurs, visit the Frederick County Office of Economic Development’s blog on Hispanic Heritage month, linked here.

Today and every day we are thankful for the Hispanic heritage and culture in Frederick County’s vibrant community.

Cathleen Wastler: Top Young Ag Professional

Cathleen Wastler

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.

Cathleen Wastler, 27, is an owner and operator of Tulip Pond Farm in Union Bridge and named one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. Cathleen grew up on her family’s dairy operation, instilling a passion for agriculture at a young age. In 2016, Cathleen received a bachelor’s degree in Accounting with a concentration in Business Finance. She held internships with an accounting firm in Frederick and then an insurance company in Libertytown, all while working on her family’s farm full-time. During her internship experiences, she decided her heart was at home. In 2018, she became a partner with her parents on Tulip Pond Farm.

Tulip Pond Farm is dairy, crop and beef operation. Cathleen and her family milk approximately 170 cows with 162 replacement heifers, have a beef herd of about 45 head and farm around 800 acres of cropland. Her days begin at 4am milking the cows with her mother. Cathleen can also be found scraping the barn, and bedding and feeding the heifers. In the spring, Cathleen spends much of her time in the field planting corn and soybeans for the farm. She tells us, “I even bought my own tractor and steering system to make things more efficient for our operation.” When it comes to making hay, Cathleen is heavily involved, operating the mower, rake or baler. Like most farms, harvest in the fall is a busy time for Tulip Pond Farm. Cathleen can be found in the combine harvesting the corn and beans or planting cover crops during this time. She is especially proud that Tulip Pond Farm has been able to accomplish cover cropping every acre they farm. They are devoted to being stewards of the land protecting the soil and helping mitigate runoff to the Chesapeake Bay. On top of her farm duties, Cathleen also helps her mother with the books and her father stay compliant with their nutrient management plan, as well as Farm Service Agency and Soil Conservation programming.

Cathleen is currently serving on the leadership council for Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, the member-owned cooperative they market their milk through. She also cares deeply for the agriculture community, advocates for the industry, and helps the next generation get involved. Cathleen enjoys working with youth interested in agriculture.

When it comes to who has influenced Cathleen the most in her work, she said, “My grandfather because he is 85 and still plants corn and makes hay. My husband influences me to work more efficiently on the farm. My parents influence me because they have worked so hard for what they have accomplished.” She also credits her parents for her work ethic which she attributes most to her success on the farm. “I was always taught to work for what you want,” she said.

We are proud to honor Cathleen 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 Cathleen on this well-deserved accolade!

Allison Stewart: Top Young Ag Professional

Allison Stewart

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.

Allison Stewart, 31, owner and operator of Deer Run Farm in Emmitsburg, is named one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. Deer Run Farm is a Red Angus beef, Berkshire pork, and Heritage chicken operation that has been in the Stewart family since 1996. In 2014, Allison met Josh Stewart, her now husband, and began helping on the farm. She dove right into the family business introducing retail beef sales, establishing the chicken hatchery and expanding the operation to include pork sales. Allison recently helped Deer Run Farm secure funding for a no-till grain drill through the Frederick County Agricultural Innovation Grant. With the purchase of this drill, Deer Run Farm can be converted to a no-till operation to better protect and conserve the soil, the Chesapeake Bay and other natural resources. With this, they have also created an opportunity for other farmers to rent the drill and do the same.

Allison is extremely proud of the success of the chicken hatchery. Deer Run Farm is the only hatchery in the United States to regularly test and maintain a disease-free poultry operation. She has expanded the business over the past five years to include shipping hatching eggs, day-old chicks and started birds nationwide. Allison’s greatest business accomplishment is the growth of the hatchery. She has helped the hatchery expand from hatching 3,000 chicks in its first year, to over 10,000 chicks hatched in a year. She says, “Having grown our customer base to support that kind of growth has been humbling.”

Recently Allison was named one of the Top 10 Farmers on the Rise by Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit. She is an active board member of the Frederick Farmer’s Cooperative, secretary for the Mid-Atlantic Red Angus Association, and a member of numerous other regional and national organizations. She says her father has influenced her most in her work with his saying “No matter what you do, do it with all your heart.” She said, “It’s something I always consider no matter what I am doing because you never know who’s watching.”

We are proud to honor Allison 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 Allison on this well-deserved accolade!

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!

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!

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!

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!

Jamie Derr: Top Young Ag Professional

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.

Jamie Derr, 36, owner of Valley Ho Farm in Middletown, is one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. Growing up on her family’s dairy farm, she has been involved in agriculture her entire life. For ten years as a young adult, she worked for her parents’ custom heifer raising and crop farming operation. In 2008 Jamie married Chris Derr, and together they took over operations at his family’s 180-acre farm. Five years later, they began a dairy farm on the property. They now milk 70 Holstein cows while raising all of their replacements and feed for their cattle. The pair also grow and sell hay, soybeans, barley and corn. In 2018, Jamie diversified their dairy and crop farming operation and began a cut flower enterprise, Valley HomeMade and HomeGrown. She now grows a quarter acre of flowers to sell at the Brunswick, Middletown, and Myersville farmers’ markets. Valley HomeMade and HomeGrown also offers flower arranging classes, and cut-your-own events while in season on the farm. You can find more details about Jamie’s flower farm and events by checking out her website, or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

On the dairy farm, Jamie is responsible for the cattle reproduction, feeding youngstock twice daily, and milking the cows each afternoon. She works closely with a veterinarian to monitor cattle health and pregnancies, and helps with field work as needed. When it comes to the flower business, Jamie is the sole manager. From planting and weeding to harvesting and selling as well as organizing the on farm events, she does it all.

In 2019, Jamie was honored to receive the Frederick County Young Farmer Award being recognized for her work within the local agricultural community. She is an advocate for the agriculture industry in Frederick County and is dedicated to educating the public whenever opportunities arise. The Derrs have welcomed non-ag visitors to their farm by hosting University of Maryland Extension Breakfast on the Farm, as well as pick-your-own flower events. Jamie names her biggest business accomplishment as starting two brand new ag businesses within five years. “Today as a farm it is extremely hard to make it. I think the fact that we were able to diversify to have several different forms of income from our farm will help keep us viable into the future,” she said.

We are proud to honor Jamie Derr 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 Jamie from Valley Ho Farm on this well-deserved accolade!