The Wayne McGinnis Family
A fourth-generation Maryland farm family was selected as the first recipient of the national Steward of the Land Award.
American Farmland Trust, a national nonprofit farmland conservation organization, chose the Wayne McGinnis family of Baltimore County, Md., for the award over 60 other nominees nationwide in recognition of their outstanding efforts in land stewardship, farmland conservation policy and the use of environmentally and economically sustainable farming practices. Wayne McGinnis accepted the award today at a special luncheon of the AFT Board of Directors in Washington.
A member of the 1958 University of Maryland basketball team which finished sixth in the NCAA, McGinnis owns and operates the 1,400-acre McGinnis Family Farm in north Baltimore County, Md. He raises corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. He also has 160 head of Angus beef cattle.
The $10,000 award honors the memory of Peggy McGrath Rockefeller, philanthropist, farmer and AFT founder who died last year. It recognizes the spirited inspiration and deep personal commitment to farmland conservation that Mrs. Rockefeller brought to AFT from its establishment in 1980 until her passing.
"Mrs. Rockefeller strongly believed in the family farmer and the protection of the nation's best and most productive land," observed AFT President Ralph Grossi. "Wayne McGinnis and his family have demonstrated that same strong commitment to the conservation of our nation's agricultural resources as Mrs. Rockefeller did. I know she would have been very pleased with AFT's choice. The family truly is a model for farmers across the nation."
"Our family are fourth-generation farmers who have always had a real passion for the land," related McGinnis. "So, it's an honor, a great honor in fact, to be recognized for something we have believed in so strongly and committed ourselves to so much."
McGinnis was born and raised on his family farm in Baltimore County. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland where he met his wife, the former Harriet Husted. She now handles the farm's administrative matters. Their three children all grew up on the farm and intend to return some day.
McGinnis was an early leader in the usage, demonstration and promotion of environmentally sound farming practices. As early as 1969, he converted his farm to "no till" cultivation, a then new form of cultivation that improved organic matter on his crop acreage. He used other practices as well to reduce soil movement and protect the water quality of streams. He also continued to experiment on ways to reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers and created wildlife habitat on the nonproductive portions of his farm.
In the 1970s, McGinnis actively supported Baltimore County efforts to adopt agricultural zoning and protect farmland from suburban sprawl. His work on three different county committees resulted in the establishment of ag zoning for a third of the county. Later he aggressively promoted and placed his own farm in the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program. Today, the county ranks in the top 10 in agricultural preservation nationally, having protected more than 19,000 acres of farmland.
McGinnis also aggressively promoted farmland protection at the state level and recently was appointed chair of the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation. He has taken part in national farmland protection efforts as well, speaking before farm groups, legislators, reporters, planners and government officials in numerous states.
"Wayne McGinnis feels so strongly in his heart his commitment for agriculture that he has spoken up even when it was not politic to do," said Wallace Lippincott, program administrator for the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management, who nominated the McGinnis family for the award. "He truly has made a difference in farming and land preservation in his community, the state and the nation."