Topher Stevenson

Agricultural heritage honored at Harford Legacy Farms celebration

June 21, 2023

Harford Legacy Farms, those owned by the same family for 100 years or more, were honored at a celebration on June 10 at the Harford Equestrian Center.

Sixty-one family farms were recognized, the oldest of which is Ruff’s Chance Farm tracing its ownership back to Henry Ruff, who purchased Ruff’s Chance Farm in Bel Air in 1684. The 200-acre farm is permanently preserved. The current owner, Jonathan Ruff, is the ninth generation of Ruffs to farm the property, now a grain and beef cow/calf operation.

Ruff’s Chance Farm in Bel Air

A crowd of over 300 people gathered for the event, including Legacy Farm families, many of which were represented by four generations. Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Kevin Atticks, County Executive Bob Cassilly, and State Senator Jason Gallion were among the speakers.

“It’s amazing that Harford has at least 61 legacy farms, including 10 that are older than the county itself. By recognizing and honoring these farms, Harford County seeks to promote the preservation of agricultural lands, maintain our rural character, and protect our agricultural heritage for future generations.”

County Executive Bob Cassilly
Photo by Topher Stevenson

Harford Legacy Farms maintain at least 10 acres of their original purchase and continue to be actively farmed.

“Farm life is hard… It takes a special person to love the land in those seasons when it doesn’t love you back. It takes a special person to dig deep into their soul and press on against all odds to keep the farm going for the next generation. It’s grit. It’s passion. It’s love. And that is what we’re really celebrating.”

Jennifer Wilson, a Legacy Farm owner and an agricultural land preservation planner for Harford County
Tower Hill Farm, home of Andy’s Eggs and Poultry, in Fallston

The initiative was launched by the Farmers & Community Partnership of Harford County as part of the year-long celebration of Harford County’s 250th anniversary. Now in its fifth year, the Partnership aims to gather farmers and the community to address issues facing local agricultural producers and consumers. Partners include Harford Community College, Harford County Government, Harford Farm Bureau, Harford Soil Conservation District, and Harford Land Trust.

The online Legacy Farm application will remain open until October 15, 2023 for additional eligible farms to be recognized during the County’s anniversary year.

Jana and Barron Shaw of Shaw Orchards in White Hall (photo by Topher Stevenson)

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