Councells selected for ag Hall of Fame

GLEN BURNIE, Md. (Feb. 10, 2015) — Gov.Larry Hogan and Acting Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder inducted the Councell family of Talbot County into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame at last week’s annual “Taste of Maryland” agriculture event.
The family became the 46th recipients of state’s highest agricultural honor.
Chip Councell, his wife Jo Ann and their son Jason Councell own and operate Councell Farms, a Talbot County retail produce market along Route 50, and a grain farming operation in the Cordova area.
The Councell Family began farming in Talbot County around 1690 when Dennis Councell came from England to the United States.
“He settled about four miles from where we live now and the Councells have been in this area ever since and our particular leg of the family has never moved outside of about a 20-mile circle,” Chip said during a video presentation on the family’s farm. “So our roots run deep.”
Chip and son Jason are the 10th and 11th generation of Councell farmers.
Chip’s father Phil raised hogs and grain. Chip started farming with his father in 1979, married Jo Ann in 1981 and then added vegetable crops to the operation. They currently grow corn, sweet corn, soybeans, wheat, watermelons, cantaloupes and squash, and they manage 1,000 acres of timber.
Jason has been managing the vegetable production and agritourism operation since 2004.
Jo Ann runs the produce market and Chip handles the grain operation.
Phil still helps daily; and Chip and Jo Ann’s daughter Melissa, an elementary school teacher, is often recruited to lend a hand.
Jo Ann’s mother Flossie and sister-in-law Betsy also work at the market.
The 12th generation of Councells includes Jason and Casey’s children Avery, Davis and Sydney; and Melissa and Jason Dodd’s daughter Anna.
“Running the Councell farm is truly a family affair,” Hogan said. “They are committed to following conservation practices and being good stewards of the land.”
Councell Farms are most prominently identified from the road with their traditional red barn, giant watermelon, oversized basket of tomatoes, and John Deere combine slide.
The market opens from summer through the fall, ending with their biggest attraction, a pick your own pumpkin patch.
The Councell family is committed to connecting with the community to explain where food comes from.
They have diversified into agritourism, converted a shed into a mini-classroom, and now conduct tours for more than 3,000 school children.
Among the many resource conservation practices installed on the farm the Councells have installed numerous grass lined waterways and rock outlets to filter nutrients and prevent soil erosion, grown cover crops, and built two small shallow-water wildlife areas to attract waterfowl.
The farm is enrolled in the federal Conservation Stewardship Program and follows a Forest Stewardship Plan.
In 2010, the Councells were honored as the Talbot Soil Conservation District Cooperators of the Year for their efforts, innovation and dedication to protecting and conserving the land, environment and wildlife.
Chip has been active in a number of agriculture organizations including Talbot County Farm Bureau, the Maryland Grain Producers Association as well as the U.S. Grains Council.
During his remarks, Hogan focused on the outstanding leadership, stewardship and accomplishments of the agricultural community.
He cited the importance to agriculture to the state’s quality of life and to the economy by directly supporting 45,600 jobs in Maryland.
Restoring the Chesapeake Bay is “critically important,” Hogan said. “But it shouldn’t fall on one group disproportionately. Placing unreasonable burdens on our farmers will only devastate more rural communities and we will simply not let that happen.”