Brooklyn Park produces its own Anne Arundel County Farm Queen


It didn't matter that Brandi Nicole Schwinn is from Brooklyn Park, the most urban part of the county, nor that she lives on a 5-acre "farmette."

It also made no difference to the Anne Arundel County Farm Bureau that the 17-year-old was the only contestant vying for the title of County Farm Queen.

What was important to the bureau's judges was her knowledge of farming and her desire to promote the role of agriculture and the farming community.

"I don't want people to think I won because I was the only one competing," said the North County High School senior. "I worked really hard to win this. I figured if I was going to make a difference, this would probably be the best way."

Miss Schwinn will be vying for the state Farm Queen title along with the 23 other contestants at the Maryland State Fair on the Timonium Fair Grounds next weekend, Aug. 29 and 30.

"Most of her competition will come from girls from the western part of the state and the Eastern Shore. Most of them will be farm-oriented and very involved," said Florence Carr, chairwoman of the Farm Bureau's women's committee.

Before being crowned, Miss Schwinn still had to go through the judging process, Ms. Carr said. She was judged by the women's committee on her farm and home responsibilities, speaking abilities, how well she communicates her agriculture and farm bureau knowledge, personality and friendliness, and her general appearance, Ms. Carr said.

"We've been having such a hard time getting girls to compete," said Ms. Carr. "Farms are just dropping off and mostly older people are living on them now. A lot of young girls don't want to fool with farming. It's been a long time back the last time someone from Anne Arundel County has won."

Miss Schwinn has a farming background rooted in her parents upbringing.

Ruby, her mother, was raised on an Amish farm in Garrett County. Her father, Charles, grew up on the same land on Carefree Drive where the Schwinns now live, a small farmette which she said has "two horses, chickens, dogs, a huge garden and fruit trees."

"My family and I probably live on the only five acres of land that is still attached in Brooklyn Park," said Miss Schwinn. "Sometimes I feel really out of place living in Brooklyn Park because there aren't any farms, but I try to make the best of what I have."

She feeds, waters, grooms and exercises the horses, cleans the stall, trailer and chicken coops and also does household chores. Miss Schwinn even keeps the fields mowed and helps with the planting and harvesting of fruits and vegetables.

Miss Schwinn is also extensively involved in agriculture-related activities with the 4-H, the Girl Scouts, the Naval Academy Dairy Farm and the Andover Equestrian Center.

She said she eventually wants to own her own farm in Southern Maryland.

"I wanted to be a farmer since I was much younger, even though farming has a bad reputation. People don't understand the farming community -- it has a stereotype about it," she said.

"Without the farmer, there wouldn't be anything from the food you eat, to the clothes you wear. People don't recognize this. They see the supermarket as their source, they don't realize that the supermarket has to buy it from the farmer."

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