A Little Piece of "OUR" History
Forrest Hall is a small family farm
of just about 100 acres - 55 acres of tillable land and 45 acres of woodland. It has been in the family for just about 100 years - most of these years in tobacco production.
Forrest Hall’s main crop from the 1920's through the remainder of the century was tobacco, topping out at about 35 acres. Joe's grandfather, Harry Wood, grew tobacco here until his death in 1969. As tobacco production began to phase out in this region around the year 2000, we began exploring alternative crops and farming ideas. We searched for an operation that the family could work on together as a team...just as we had done with tobacco. The farm remains a working farm to this day, with a good mix of tillable soil and woodland, as well as a one-acre pond that provides a home to a variety of wildlife.
On with the story...
Harry and Avie Wood believed in the land, the county, and the crop. Forrest Hall Farm was, to them, a way of life. The two shared dreams, hard work, joy, and sadness...all of their efforts show today in the family they raised. The farm remains in the Wood family and has been for about 100 years, still farmed, still loved.
Upon Harry's death, the farm went into an estate of nine interests. It took us about 20 years to buy back the interests ... one by one ... and restore the homeplace to one parcel of land. We are part of the state's tobacco buyout program and the farm is currently in ag preservation.
For over 30 years, we have worked full time on the farm, and have also held full-time jobs off the farm. Currently, our farm includes our three married children and our seven grandchildren. The farm is surrounded on three sides by development and located along a main highway in St. Mary's County.
Our plan, as it was developed in 1965, would have likely moved us to purchase the farm from Joe's grandfather - had he lived longer. Although it did not happen that way, we were abel to acquire the farm completely by 1990. Once that was done, we immediately set about to make the farm productive again. This meant improving the soil, installing a water supply and irrigation, establishing soil conservation practices, building out-buildings, purchasing equipment of our own, and more. Once this part of the plan was underway, we made plans to live on the farm. Unfortunately, by that time, the old manor house could not be saved. We decided to build a new home on the footprint of the old, and we had it designed with a similar floor plan. Joe's grandmother, Avie always dreamed of a newer home here on the farm, and unfortunately, that dream never became a reality for her. We even re-named the road “Avie Lane” in her memory. Following this, we were free to devote time and energy to protecting the farm from development. During this time period, it was not unusual to get several offers from realtors each week.
Enhancements and improvements are ongoing. We recognize that we are located in a highly visible area, and if we want to attract visitors, we must look like we are expecting them. With all these things accomplished, we now focused on transitioning out of tobacco production and assure the viability of the farm...well beyond the ten years of the buyout program. We had to make the operation ready for transfer to our next generation. Our goal is to return to getting the farm's income back to the level of tobacco production days with consideration for inflation, and more.
We've learned an awful lot about ourselves, our children, and our family while riding back and forth over the land planting tobacco, and then spending evening after evening together in the stripping house! We learned that it wasn't the crop...it was us working side-by-side, fulfilling dreams, enriching lives, and most of all continuing the legacy of Forrest Hall Farm & Orchard...as a family. We continue to live right on the farm, along with our three married children and their families, including a whopping seven grandchildren. And here we are today... ”Corn Maze” farmers and lovers of the land.
With that said...we welcome you and hope you enjoy yourselves when you visit.