Retro HoCo: Maple Lawn turkeys

Ellsworth and Mary Elizabeth Iager had just returned from their honeymoon in 1938 when they began raising not children, but turkeys. On a 108-acre farm in Fulton that had been in the Iager family since the 1840s, the newlyweds woke before dawn to till the land, milk dairy cows and tend to turkeys they called “Sho-Nuf.”

Over the decades, “Sho-Nuf” turkeys appeared on the plates of Maryland governors and even President John F. Kennedy. Business-savvy Ellsworth bought up neighboring farms, and he and Mary Elizabeth eventually handed the farm, called Maple Lawn, down to their sons, who still own it today.

“We take free range to a different level,” Gene Iager told a farming publication in 2014, discussing the success of his turkeys. Maple Lawn’s poultry spent as much time as they wanted outside, he said, reducing their stress hormones and making for a better-tasting bird.

In 2000, the Iager family sold a large chunk of the property to developers over the vocal objections of neighbors. The area is now home to office buildings, restaurants and homes. As Gene Iager told The Post in 2000, "Whether we want it or not, this land is not going be farmed forever. Farming is history in Howard County."

For now, at least, the turkeys are still sold around Thanksgiving directly from Maple Lawn farm and at Whole Foods in Columbia.

ctkacik@baltsun.com

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