The Sunderland Family is grounded in Calvert County and stems from a long line of farmers. The earlier generations of farmers were tobacco and livestock farmers. Although this story and family line begins with Bryan Sunderland purchasing his own farm in 1980 right out of high school at the age of 18. Growing up, Bryan worked his own farm and several neighboring farms so farming was in his blood.
Bryan began building his own farm on his 40-acre parcel; growing tobacco and produce. This was no easy task but he had the determination and work ethic to make it work. In 1983, Bryan was awarded the “Young Farmer’s Award” for being the youngest farmer in the county at the age of 22. In 1984, there was a significant drought in the county of less than an inch of rain during the whole growing season. This was a devastating loss for Bryan; however, he continued to move forward; get a job, and continued to farm.
Follow your dreams. It was terrifying but I had to try. ~ Linda Sunderland
In 1987, Bryan married Linda and they had their first child. The Sunderland’s continued farming and working. Two years later, they took a HUGE leap of faith. Linda left her job in the banking world to start her own end of the business. She will tell you, she got into farming because she married a farmer. In 1989, they bought their first 2 greenhouses on Independence Day out of the Pennysaver (a small local paper in Calvert County for those too young to know what it is) for $500.
Through a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, they started their produce stand out of the back of their pick-up truck on the side of the road at Broome’s Island and route 4 with 5 dozen ears of corn on the weekends. These were not easy times. Bryan spent his days working his job while farming in the evenings and weekends. Linda with the help of Uncle Billy spent their days and nights filling and planting in the greenhouses with toddlers and infants in toe. The weekends were spent at their produce stand determined to succeed.
As the years went on, Linda, Billy, and Bryan continued to grow the greenhouse and produce business. The Produce stand grew from the pick-up truck to a pop-up trailer stand on the weekends to the well-known Produce Stand opened 7 days a week in the community today. Anyone in the southern part of Calvert County can tell you about this beloved icon in the community.
Linda does share this was not easy. There was no book or class to prepare them for this; it took a lot of trial and error. “It takes hand’s on experience to make this work and become successful”, says Linda. There were some scary times but they had the determination, motivation, and grit to succeed.
Linda and Bryan continue to grow their family as well as their business. They raised their 3 sons on the farm and started them early in the family business. Their boys grew up knowing what it is like to work the farm after school and the value of hard work. They continued to grow their business to the success it is today. They expanded to 9 greenhouses selling both plants and produce becoming a well-known name in the community.
In 2011, they handed down the produce stand to their middle son, Jake, who found his own love and appreciation for farming. Like his parents, Jake appreciates and understands the importance of hard work as well as the love of an American pastime in farming. The beauty in working the land to take care of your family while provided a precious service to the local community.
Jake has since grown the business as well as his own family. This year (2022), the final torch was passed to him. Jake is now the owner of Jake’s Produce and Linda’s Greenhouses. Similar to his parents, he has also grown and expanded the family business to meet community needs. He now offers Christmas trees, along with handmade wreaths and centerpieces in the holiday season to share in the holiday spirit with the community. His 100ft Christmas tree on Broomes Island Road acts as a beacon to ring in the change in season. He is working on many other ideas to expand and bring joy to the community so more to come in the upcoming years.
Farming has become a dying breed in Maryland but the Sunderlands have adapted and answered the call to keep their legacy alive. Bryan and Linda started this adventure to be successful, live out their dreams, and have something to pass down to their children. They have succeeded in these goals. They will tell you this is not easy but “when you have a dream, you have to try. You have to take a risk on yourself.” Now its Jake’s turn who is well on his way to creating his own dreams while continuing to build on the family legacy for his own children.
Bryan bought his 40 acre farm on Broomes Island Road at the age of 18 where he continued his farming talents to grow tobacco and produce.
In 1983, there was a significant drought in Calvert County forcing Bryan to find a job to supplement income.
In 1984, Bryan is awarded the “Young Farmers Award” for being the youngest farmer in the county at the age of 22.
Bryan and Linda bought their first two greenhouses out of the Pennysaver for $500. In this same year, They opened their produce stand out of the back of a pickup truck at the current location on Yoe’s Corner Lane.
This was the last year of the Tobacco Buy-Out when tobacco companies bought out all the tobacco farms with the agreement the farmer would not grow tobacco for 10 years. The Sunderland’s never grew tobacco again but continue to grow their produce on the farm and expanded their greenhouse market to also grow plants.
Linda’s Produce Stand was handed down to the next generation, their son Jake. Jake has since grown the business further to what it is today. He is continually growing with plans to also hand down the family business to his own sons.
Linda and Bryan retire. Linda’s Greenhouses are handed down to their son, Jake, for the next generation of farmers.