by JoAnn Grbach, Germantown Gazette 10/25/1995
Every autumn area residents pick one afternoon to stop by Phillips Farm to choose a pumpkin, carve a jack-0-lantern and sip some cider. And while it maybe fun for the visitors, they are usually not aware of the hard work, diligent planning and exhausting process that allows them to enjoy this bounty each year.
During the fall, the Phillips Farm share their knowledge and open their business to residents from around the area. But they are more than just pumpkins and produce. "The soil is our livelihood and so we have to take care of it."
Phillips Farm Produce is a name that Germantown residents, as well as residents from all over the county, associated with fresh local produce. Every summer these roadside stands become a part of the daily commute.
The Phillips family has been farming in the state of Maryland since 1649, in Montgomery County since the 1700's and in Germantown since 1933. The farm is located on Route 118 near Riffleford Road in the south of Germantown area.
Jean Phillips was not always a farmer. In fact, after she completed college she worked in areas unrelated to farming. It wasn't until after her second child was born that she returned to farming . "I enjoy farming, it's a way of life." said Phillips, 50.
Now with 500 acres of farm land, Phillips is working practically every day to ensure that residents are getting the best quality produce and grains.
Jean Phillips sits on her straw spider at her farm on Rout 118 at Riffleford Road in Germantown.
Phillips began vegetable production in 1990. Her father began as a dairy farmer and the Phillips have consistently farmer field corn, hay, wheat and soybeans.
The Phillips Farm is important to the area for more than just agricultural reasons.
School tours are among the daily routine at there farm. The hay rides that students take in the fall are significant because they are truly educational.
"It's important for kids to understand the relationship between farming and themselves. Hopefully they will grow up to respect crops." Phillips said. "Its nice for people to see the farm and learn about it."
Phillips Farm is also the site of a Jousting Tournament (the Maryland State Sport) each summer.
The Phillips have watched their community change dramatically over the years and see both positive and negative effects of the building and population growth.
On the positive side, the population explosions increased business, providing summer jobs for many high school students. Working on a farm provides the young people Phillips employ substantial education about farming.
"The teenagers I employ are really top notch, good kids," Phillips said. "If you treat them like they have ability, they always come through."
Perhaps the most impressive quality about the farmer is that despite her busy work day, she manages to donate to the community.
For example, much of what they can't sell is given to the food banks to be distributed among less fortunate.
"Germantown has been good to me and I want to give back in any way I can," Phillips said.
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