By Guy Leonard, County Times
HOLLYWOOD, Md.—The agriculture business is changing in St. Marys County and Carrolls Equipment is changing along with it.
A John Deere dealership, based in Dameron, the family owned company has been in business for 77 years.
But agriculture is not what it used to be here, said Richard Rick Carroll.
Farmings not predominate in the tricounty area anymore, he told The County Times. Weve changed with the times and provided what the customer needed.
But farming is probably less than 10 percent of my business now. Its mostly consumer products.
Though it still extends lines of credit to farmers in the region and provide services for their equipment, the Carroll family business, is a bellwether for how local agriculture is changing.
Our farms down here are growing houses now, said his father, Richard Dick Carroll, the second generation of the family still helping to the run the business.
They say thats the last crop a farm produces is houses, Dick Carroll said. We have to roll with the punches.
Brenda Hanson, a member of the family working in sales, said that there might be about 10 large-scale farmers who raise crops throughout the whole county, slowing sales of larger equipment.
But smaller pieces of farm equipment are still going out the door, she said.
For some people, she said, farming is simply moving to a much smaller scale.
You have housing farmettes with two horses and a big garden, Hanson said. They need a plow and a bush hog.
We deal with those a lot.
Hanson said that more and more people are looking to do their own gardens in tough economic times and the need for small-scale equipment could help boost their business.
Rick Carroll said he sees farming continuing as a way of life in Southern Maryland and in St. Marys County, but it wont be like the county that his grandfather set up shop in nearly eight decades ago.
The acreage [of farms] has reduced but youre [lower] crop and commodities prices mean you have to be so much more efficient, to produce more with less input, Rick Carroll said of stresses facing todays farmers.
His father remembers better times, too.
Its surviving, wed like to see it better, Dick Carroll said. Dad opened this place in 1929 and that road out there was dirt.
They pulled stumps with horses and mules.
Back then more farmers bought tractors or at least needed them serviced, Dick Carroll said.
That, too, has gone by the wayside.
They dont buy [big] equipment down here, he said of farmers. And there are fewer of them down here.
Strangely, sometimes logic gets turned on its head, he said.
But the thing about farmers is if they have money, they spend it, he said. If they want information on an antique machine they come to me.
Some of the old machines are still working in the field and they say the cant afford a new piece, but when they want to restore one they spend the money. Hobbies are expensive.
Despite the dwindling number of farmers here in the county, Rick Carroll said, the love of the land that those remaining have should be enough to keep their business going.
As long as the business continues to adapt, that is. With lawn and garden, for us thats where it is, he said. As long as theres demand in the county, I dont see us going away from it.