Image Credit: Edwin Remsberg
Where do you work currently and what are your responsibilities?
We incorporated the family dairy farm which included my parents and a brother in 1992 and I have been the president and manager since. My wife, Kim, and I started Hawks Hill Creamery (Street, MD) in 2004 to make and sell local raw milk cheese and ice cream to capture some value added income. This has also morphed into a growing agri-tourism business with an Easter egg hunt in the spring, a pumpkin festival in October and field trips for local children to help give them a better sense of where their food comes from.
Falling Branch Brewery, founded by my oldest son, Alex, ’13 Environmental Science and Technology, is an extension of our agri-tourism efforts. It was his idea to put in the hops and pursue opening a farm brewery as the Maryland farm brewery bill was passed about the time he graduated. I’m the vice president of this business and help facilitate all that goes into this new venture. Our hops have been growing for three years and they are doing well. The brew house is remodeled and ready for production. We are working with a brewer who also has a full time job as an engineer, so I’m the only one who can be here every day. Our license is pending but we hope that is completed soon. Hop harvest by hand is a pretty intensive job.
How did your education at UMD prepare you for your current role?
My education at College Park helped me to grow our small dairy farm to produce up to 5.5 million pounds of milk per year. Courses like food science and microbiology taught important lessons because whether you’re making corn silage, cheese or beer, all involve using beneficial bacteria and/or yeast. The lessons from agriculture economics have been important in all of these businesses.
What is your favorite memory from the University of Maryland?
The friendship with my Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) brothers is number one -- most of them last a lifetime. It was also great to represent UMD in dairy judging contests. A highlight was when I got the job of teaching the lab portion of Dr. Lee Majeski’s dairy production class because a grad student wasn’t available.
Any advice for current College of AGNR students?
Keep your options open to opportunities you might have never thought of pursuing. You never know what direction life might take you and it can all change any day.