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It’s a Family Affair in Queen Anne’s County

Photo by Edwin RemsbergSince 1991, over 50 farming families have been inducted into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame. This year, the award goes to the Eck family from Queen Anne’s County.

The Eck family emigrated to Baltimore from Germany in the mid-1800s. Elmer T. Eck and Sons was established in 1952 when the family purchased 750 acres of land in Queen Anne’s County. Carl Eck and his wife, Doris, worked with his sister, Dorothy Eck Higgs, and her husband, William Jennings Higgs, to milk Holsteins and grow row crops.

By 1977, Carl and Doris’ son, Mark, began contributing to the farm operation. As a sophomore in high school, Mark built his first chicken house and share-cropped 20 acres. A crop share lease is an agreement where the landowner and tenant split the expenses of farming as well as the production, so both parties experience the risk associated with high and lows of price and production. Since then, Mark has gone on to purchase eight farms in Ingleside, expanding his family’s operation and maintaining a strong commitment to the community.

“I’ve been farming in Queen Anne’s County my whole life. I was raised on my parent’s dairy farm, built my first chicken house on my dad’s farm at the age of 17, and we’ve been expanding ever since,” Mark says

Mark and Vicky Eck own and operate MAE-VUE Farms where they farm 1,500 acres of crops and raise large broiler chickens in seven barns. Their oldest son, Alan, and grandson, Easton, have expanded the family operation to include another 430 acres of crops; production of 715,000 large broiler chickens; 1,800 all-natural, heritage market hogs; a commercial cow-finish beef operation; and a straw and hay business. “We are very grateful for this award, it has taken many generations of hard work. A labor of love for God, family, community and the farm. We take great pride and joy in our craft and wish to share that with future generations,” Alan says.

The couple’s younger son Kenny lives in Austin, Texas, where he owns and manages a healthcare data management company. “My parents, grandparents and the previous generations of farmers in our family would be proud,” Kenny says. “They have produced crops and raised livestock for hundreds of years. In doing so, they have fed millions of people, have helped numerous industries thrive, and the impact of our farming operations will continue to improve the lives of others for hundreds of years to come.”

The Eck’s daughter, Jenell Eck McHenry, lives on a grain and beef farm in Kennedyville with her husband, Joey, and their son, Lee. The McHenrys grow 600 acres of row crops, custom farm and sell their beef direct to consumers. Beyond the farm, Jenell works for Thompson Ag Consulting, where she is a staunch advocate for the state’s farm community. “Dad always made farm work entertaining and reminded us the value of the industry,” she says. “His big heart and mom’s understanding allowed me to find my place in the industry. I am very excited for my parents in this honor as they have served the industry and our community dearly.”

Throughout the years, the Eck family has been an outstanding example of the dedication and commitment that farmers have to the environment and their communities. The family works closely with Queen Anne’s Soil Conservation District to install various on-farm best management practices that are designed to protect and preserve natural resources.

Additionally, the Eck family is heavily involved with various agricultural organizations in Maryland including 4-H, FFA, Farm Bureau and many others, and the local community organizations, such as the Sudlersville Ruritan Club, Ingleside Community Center and Ingleside United Methodist Church.

Mark and Vicky hope that their children continue the family’s legacy and grow their farming business for generations to come.

Congratulations to the Eck family!

Hungry for more? Meet your local farmers at a farmer’s market. Read about another Maryland farming family. Learn more about conservation practices. Read about other families inducted into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame.

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