Chester County Commissioners Present Pair of Agricultural Awards

Sara Manning

The Chester County Board of Commissioners, along with the Agricultural Development Council, presented two agricultural awards at the Commissioners’ meeting this week.

The Farmer of the Year award was presented to Elias and Rebecca King of King’s Pumpkin Farm in Parkesburg. The Kings are the Ag Council’s first-ever Amish winners of the Farmer of the Year award.

The Distinguished Agricultural Service award was given to Sara Manning, who worked for the American Mushroom Institute for more than 20 years before her retirement earlier this year.

The Kings open their approximately 70-acre Parkesburg farm every fall to thousands of visitors for pumpkin-picking right off the vine. The farm also offers the opportunity to explore an elaborate corn maze, feed farm animals in the petting zoo, and purchase a variety of locally produced farm products in the farm store.

King's Pumpkin Farm in Parkesburg
King’s Pumpkin Farm in Parkesburg

The Kings grow corn, soybeans and wheat, and operate a dairy in partnership with Elias’s sister, her husband, and their family, who also live on the farm.

The Kings were represented at the Commissioners’ meeting by Chester County Open Space Preservation Agricultural Programs Coordinator Geoff Shellington.

“We nominated the Kings for their commitment to farming and to their community,” said Shellington. “We are impressed by their dedication to conservation practices like no-till cover cropping in the fields and strategic grazing practices for the dairy cows. Elias and Rebecca also play an important role in their community, creating a welcoming atmosphere for area residents and their children on the farm.”

Manning, meanwhile, played an integral role, bringing mushroom growers together through her many outreach efforts at the American Mushroom Institute.

“Of particular note, Manning advocated for critical workplace safety initiatives that have helped bring safety training to mushroom house employees through creative means like convenient, portable iPhone applications,” said Ag Council Director Hillary Krummrich. “Her passion and enthusiasm for the mushroom industry will be sorely missed by her colleagues across the county and beyond.”