Bringing Home the Bacon

Russell Brothers LLC Farm offers locally raised beef, pork and chicken with a side of Southern Maryland hospitality
Writer: Susan Craton: Susan Craton
Photographer: Vickie Kite Milburn
Summer 2021

 
For four hours each Saturday, the Russell Brothers LLC Farm in Morganza transforms from a peaceful working farm into a small community retail hub.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., faithful customers line up in their cars along the property’s long front driveway as the farm opens to the public for just those few hours to sell its wares. The Russells offer meat and poultry locally raised without antibiotics or hormone treatments, with the cattle and pigs raised on site at the Russell farm.
 
ITS A LOCAL BUSINESS SELLING LOCAL PRODUCTS
Among the dozens of items available are pork products, including baby back ribs, pork brats, sausage and scrapple. They sell whole chickens as well as chicken breasts and tenders, and beef products like prime rib toasts, ground beef and ribeye steak. Local eggs, honey, cheese and canned Amish goods are also sold. A complete list of products, updated every Friday, can be found at the Russell Bros. LLC Farm Facebook page.
The biggest seller?
“Bacon,” says Brian Russell, one of the four brothers running the farm, grinning at the obvious answer.
The Russell brothers sell applewood smoked bacon, black pepper bacon, jalapeno bacon and smoked bacon by the pound.
 
A REAL FAMILY AFFAIR
The business is co-run by Brian, Leroy Russell, Glen Russell and Andrew Russell – four of the 13 siblings in their family. A sister, Cathy Russell Humphries, heads up the sales efforts each Saturday, assisted by a cadre of Russell-related women.
While the sales were originally held inside the farm’s former stripping house, used during the farm’s tobacco days, the Russells created a drive-through system during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing customers to stay in their cars during all sales transactions.
Car by car, customers drive up to the stripping house’s window and Humphries leans out to hear their order and have a friendly chat while others inside gather the requested items.
“It’s fun for me,” Humphries says. “I enjoy working with my family. … And we really appreciate our customers and their support for our business.”
The Russell family can boast of particularly deep Southern Maryland roots.
The current farm’s property comes from part of an approximately 400-acre land grant from the king of England to an ancestor on the Russell brothers’ maternal side of the family – Graves – in the late 1600s.
“That’s the story we’ve always been told,” Brian Russell says.
Brian Russell says his father, Fidelis Russell, first farmed with a team of horses, back when the farm was largely devoted to tobacco. It was from this experience that he taught his children to treat animals on the farm well, as partners in the work.
It is a value the Russell brothers continue today, Brian Russell says.
 
PHASING OUT TOBACCO
The family participated in the tobacco buyout in 2000, when Maryland paid farmers to stop growing tobacco while remaining in agriculture. The Russell Farm tried a variety of different pursuits after this, including selling beef by the half or the whole.
About four years ago, however, the brothers began a relationship with a U.S. Department of Agriculture slaughterhouse on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where they have their meat products butchered into the smaller portions, a process that involves more regulations than the previous approach.
The product is delivered back to the farm within two weeks, assuring freshness, and it was a popular move with customers.
In addition to meat, the Russell brothers raise seedlings in a series of greenhouses on the farm. They sell the plants they grow to Bell Nursery, which supplies Home Depot stores.
“There’s never been anything to match it,” Brian Russell says of the tobacco business, but adding that the local meats business has found a market. “It’s picking up. It’s getting better.”
 
SOUTHERN MARYLAND HOSPITALITY
Toni Kruszka of Mechanicsville has been a regular customer at the Russell Bros. Farm for about the last three years. She said she tries to stop by about once a month.
“I love that Russell Brothers Meats is right around the corner from my house. A visit to their farm for locally raised, chemical-free meats on a Saturday morning or afternoon is so worth the extra trip,” Kruszka says. “Their meats are super-fresh, and their applewood smoked bacon is the best, hands down.”
Brian Russell says the family is proud of the quality of the farm’s products.
“We’re a little more expensive,” he says, but “this is a place to come for quality.”
But, beyond that, he says he thinks the family’s friendly interaction with customers is a significant selling point.
“Southern Maryland is known for being hospitable, for friendly service,” he says. “And, I think you’ll find that here.”
Russell Bros. LLC Farm is at 25111 Colton’s Point Road in Morganza, across the street from Chopticon High School. The farm is open for customers on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. A list of products available for sale are posted each Friday on the farm’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/russellbrosLLC. Credit card, check and cash accepted. 301-475-1633. •