Men of Harford 2011: John Rigdon

If any family represented the epitome of Harford County evolution, it would undoubtedly be the Rigdon clan. John and wife, “Andy” Rigdon, are continuing a farming legacy that started long ago. John’s ancestors came over from England and arrived in Harford County in 1728. His great-grandfather, Alexander Rigdon wrote and signed the Bush Declaration in 1775, a county resolution that expressed support for the Patriot cause in the emerging American Revolution. This important document is considered historically as a predecessor to the Declaration of Independence. Rigdon is also the distant relative of another more famous patriot, George Mason.

The Rigdon dynasty continues today through the hard work and determination of John Rigdon. “I grew up on the family farm, and it was a very positive experience. I grew up showing cattle hogs and sheep in the 4-H, and it opened doors to meeting people throughout the state and the country,” says John.

John, now 54, graduated from North Harford High School in 1975 and then went on to earn a B.S. degree in agronomy from University of Maryland, College Park. For a short time after college he worked for a chemical company, but later returned to farming. “I wanted to be self employed, so I came back to Rigdon Farms. I worked for my parents, and they eventually gave me a piece of property to grow produce and fall ornamentals instead of paying me a salary. I traded my labor for the use of their land.”

The Rigdons have always been a part of the agricultural community in Harford County, and today they mainly produce grain from corn, soy beans and wheat, hay and straw as well as manage a road-side stand with produce and ornamentals. The farm also includes 100 Angus cows, which they raise and sell feeder calves at 600 pounds with no antibiotics or growth hormones to Whole Foods Grocery.

In 1983, John started his own family when he married Andrea “Andy,”  whom he met through her sister Anya during a 4-H livestock judging. John and Andy have four children: Chad, 26 who recently finished his graduate work at University of Virginia School of Economics; Will, 25, who is in his last year at University of South Carolina pursuing a doctorate in chemical engineering; Harrison, 24, who is currently vice president of Rigdon Farms; and Julia, 21, who recently graduated from University of Maryland, College Park with a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering. “I encourage them all to pursue whatever they want to do in life. The farm is a wonderful place to grow up, and it gave them all a very good background to pursue whatever it is they desire in life,” says John.

John and the Rigdon family have deep roots in Harford County, and over the years, John has served on several boards, including the Harford County Preservation Board and the Harford Land Trust. His wife is on the board of directors of Harford’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). They have also been active in their church, Holy Cross Episcopal in Street.

As for the fate of the Rigdon farm, John says he hopes to see his son Harrison “have the opportunity to live a decent life and raise his family. I would like to be able to help with the farm, but would like to have some free time to travel around the country and the world,” says John.

John’s parents, George and Mary Rigdon, still live in a little house on the farm today and John’s wish is that Harford County “will continue to remain a great place for families to live in the future.” 

What is your favorite television show? I don’t watch TV.
What is your favorite food? Salmon
If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be? My great-grandfather, George Mason.
What do you do to relax or have fun? Adventure sports and tra

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