CUMBERLAND — The Maryland Farm Bureau presented its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to Jack Miltenberger, Allegany County Farm Bureau vice president.
The award recognizes unsung heroes who have dedicated their lives to making the Farm Bureau a better and stronger organization. Recipients are longtime members who have volunteered countless hours organizing Farm Bureau events and other behind-the-scenes tasks.
Miltenberger, who planted his first garden when he was 9 years old, is still farming at the age of 82 on his family farm that was started in 1868. He has dedicated his life to agriculture, growing and selling produce as well as previously raising black Angus cattle, hogs and grain crops.
Miltenberger sells a large amount of produce through farmers markets in Allegany County and has shared his love and knowledge of farming with his family. Several of his family members, including his son Jeff and family, are involved in the operation, raising over 50 different varieties of vegetables.
A valued member of the Allegany County farming community, Miltenberger has been progressive and adventurous in agriculture for many years. He was one of the first in the area to purchase a no-till drill, long before it was a common practice.
The family’s Maryland farm was along the banks of the North Branch of the Potomac River, where he fenced out livestock years ago and employed any feasible practice to maintain water quality, such as buffer strips and grassed waterways.
The University of Maryland had several studies and test plots housed at the Miltenberger farm over the years. Much research on the use of fescue grass was conducted at the farm as well as tomato test plots. Miltenberger strives to maintain a healthy balance with native wildlife by using deer damage permits and allowing other approved and licensed hunters to come on his property to help control the deer and bear populations.
Miltenberger was also instrumental in securing the new building at the Allegany County fairgrounds, where he has worked tirelessly with the Ag Expo to support the 4-H and FFA youth.
The extensive and successful farmers market program in Allegany County is also a result of Miltenberger’s hard work and drive.
In 1991, the Downtown Cumberland Business Association asked him to start a local program. In a short time, he had markets at four locations throughout the county that are still flourishing today, and he still sits on the board for the farmers market group.
In addition to his years of service to the farming community, he has been a dedicated husband for 60 years. He and Hilda have four children, eight grandchildren and five great- grandchildren.
With a life dedicated to service, Miltenberger has been president of Allegany County Farm Bureau; president of Allegany County Ag Expo from 1985 to 1990, vice president from 2000 to 2006, and board member since 1984; Maryland Association of Agriculture Fairs and Shows board member from 2005 to 2009; Ag Expo Building Committee chair from 1997 to 2001; Ag Expo Building Fund coordinator from 1998 to 2005; and Southern States Cumberland Coop board member, serving several terms as chair.