Nearly 200 people attended the Kent County Farm Bureau annual meeting and banquet Sept. 27 at the Felton Fire Hall, where, after the traditional dinner of fried oysters, chicken salad and all the trimmings, awards were presented to the Cannon/Knutsen family and, posthumously, to George A. Dunning Jr.

Hard work and strong work ethic

Marty Desmond, the regional lending manager with MidAtlantic Farm Credit, presented the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award to Dunning, a friend and fellow co-worker for 26 years. Dunning passed away July 23, 2016, after suffering a heart attack at work while preparing for Farm Credit’s 100th birthday celebration.

“George was born and raised on a farm in Kent County and spent much of his youth busy with milking cows, planting and harvesting crops and filling silos for local farmers,” Desmond said. “This is the period of time where George learned the meaning of hard work and developed such a strong work ethic.”

He graduated at the top of his class at Smyrna High School and also excelled in football and baseball.

He and Lynda Roach married early. She worked full time while George finished his studies at the University of Delaware. George found his niche as a loan officer in the Dover Branch of Farm Credit in 1990.

“George had a stellar career at Farm Credit, receiving several promotions and being honored with the President’s Award, the highest honor given to an employee.  George was consistently one of the top performers,” Desmond said.

“While working full time, George also devoted much time to service to others,” Desmond said. “He was very involved at his church. He was instrumental in starting the Crop Walk, softball coach for the Little Las program in Smyrna, treasurer for the Delaware Ag Museum, treasurer of the Kenton Ruritans, judge for the Delaware FFA and a Meals on Wheels volunteer.

Desmond recalled that during Dunning’s last week, “Apryl told me that her father never had any intentions of retiring.  He told her that he was being paid to do a job he loved doing, so why should he retire? He got to work with some really special people in the office and each day he had the opportunity work with the greatest customers anyone could ask for. What more could he want?”

Present to accept the award were Dunning’s wife, Lynda, his daughter, Apryl Peppard, his two brothers, Jerry and Doug, and their wives.

The Cannons

James H. Cannon Jr. and his wife, Patricia, share with their daughter, Stephanie, and her husband, Gregory W. Knutsen, the honor of 2017 Farm Family of the Year for Kent County. The award was presented by Richard Wilkins.

Knutsen is a Kent County Farm Bureau director and serves on the board of the Delaware Farm Bureau Foundation. Cannon’s father, Hubert, served as director for much of his life.

The Cannon farm consists of three farms in Andrewsville totaling about 280 acres, of which about 200 are tillable, plus 200 or more acres of rented ground. They grow grain and hay.

Cannon still owns the original farm of his great-grandfather, which recently received a Century Farm Award.

The couple lives on a farm a few miles away from where he was raised. When Cannon’s parents passed away, they moved to the farm permanently in 1995.

Cannon’s father raised hogs and milk cows and grew grain, vegetables, and hay. Cannon left the farm after high school but came back to help years later. He bought the adjacent farm which had been owned by another of his great-grandfathers. When Knutsen and Stephanie married, they remodeled the home there and moved in.

Knutsen had been raised on a dairy farm in Rising Sun, Maryland, and always wanted his own herd. Cannon and Knutsen worked together to remodel the milking parlor and milk house and in 2013, after an absence of more than 30 years, cows were once again milked on the farm. He now operates G&S Dairy where he milks a herd of 50 to 60 Jersey and Holsteins, with a few Brown Swiss. He and Cannon farm the land together.

The Knutsens both graduated from the University of Delaware. Stephanie also is Maryland Nutrient Management certified and works for Maryland Department of Agriculture in soil conservation.

She and her husband founded their own crop insurance business, Knutsen Crop Insurance, almost 20 years ago. Both are licensed agents.

The two are also dairy project group leaders for 4-H and run a successful lease program for 4-Hers for the last eight years.

Cannon and Knutsen are past recipients of Kent Conservation District’s “Cooperator of the Year.” They hosted the Farm to Fork Dinner for two years and love giving farm tours. They enjoy educating the public about misconceptions being delivered via social media and other means.

Cannon took the microphone briefly to thank his sisters, who, when their father passed away, had contributed to the farm’s success by selling the original farm to his family.

Margie Chase presented an award to the Michael Wilkinson Nationwide Insurance Agency, the top member producer in Kent County. Wilkinson added 30 members to Farm Bureau rolls this year. A strong supporter of Delaware Farm Bureau, Wilkinson won the same award in 2012, 2015 and 2016.

Other achievements recognized

In the DFB Rate of Gain Contest, Drew Harris of Harrington was recognized for his 4-H sheep which gained 0.845 pounds per day, and for his market hog, which gained 1.95 pounds per day. Other winners were Joshua Menard of Harrington, FFA sheep, 0.738 lb. per day; Mindy Cook of Newark, FFA swine; 2.28 lb. per day; Olivia Gaines of Camden, 4-H goat, 0.52 lb. per day; and Maura Breeding of Felton, FFA goat, 0.54 lb. per day.

On behalf of Kent County Farm Bureau, Jacob Urian presented $500 each to representatives of the FFA and 4-H.

In his opening remarks, KCFB president Jonathan Thompson asked members to contribute to the Texas and Florida Farm Bureaus’ hurricane relief funds by dropping money in containers on the table. Members contributed $825. At the top of DFB’s website, defb.org, are links for others who would like to donate.

DFB President Kitty Holtz added that she had a contact for anyone who wanted to donate feed or hay.

Holtz also discussed the explosion of the deer population in the Northeast. Other states are having problems similar to those in Delaware, she said. “We will be seeking legislation. We need your data. If you have suffered loss, let us know how much.”