Now they have a reason to worry: the State Highway Administration wants to build a 10,000-ton salt storage facility where the Scible family has planted crops since 1951, and their cousins the Doepkins family has worked since the 1920s.
"We didn't know anything about it until I saw a survey crew in the field, on a Sunday," Mark Scible said.
That was back in April. Since then they learned about the state's plans and hope the agency will find another spot to store salt that will be redistributed to salt domes in bad winters.
Now here's the rub — the state owns the 3.94 acres in question.
The state took the land by imminent domain 55 years ago to build an off ramp from Route 50 to Davidsonville Road (424). But it never built the ramp after road officials selected a different design.
Part of the final agreement said the Scible's could continue to farm the remainder of the condemned property that was not used for a ramp. They have done so since the 1960 state takeover. This year that swath of land has patches of sweet corn and pumpkins growing on it. The pumpkins are sold at the farm's popular Y Worry Pumpkin Patch.
"That would shut the pumpkin patch down," said Betsy Scible. "People have been coming here for generations for it. Who is going to want to come for a day in the country next to an industrial facility?"
State Highway Administration spokesman David Buck said the agency has been adding salt reserve barns around the state as backup supply for the 94 salt dome it has around the state. There are barns in Baltimore, Howard and Prince Georges counties.
"We have also been looking to add a salt reserve location in Anne Arundel County," Buck said. "SHA is currently narrowing the list of potential sites on state-owned land in Anne Arundel to construct a 10,000-ton salt barn reserve." Other sites include Interstate 97 at Route 32, and I-97 near Glen Burnie, he added.
Buck explained the salt would not be accessed regularly but be drawn from toward the end of a harsh winter.
But that is little comfort to the Scibles and cousin William Doepkins whose farm is across Davidsonville Road.
"At a time when the state of Maryland, Anne Arundel County, and other organizations are working to save farms and open space it is beyond my comprehension why SHA is even considering such a project at this site," Doepkins told the SHA in a June letter. "It will destroy established woodland and open space … and the rural character citizens of Davidsonville and Crofton have come to know and value as part of (their) community."
Standing up on the hill of the Scible place one would hardly notice Route 50 was right next to the property. That is in large part due to the effort of William Doepkins father, William Sr., who at is own expense planted over 50,000 trees on all fours sides of the interchange, beautifying what would otherwise be a desolate vista and deafening most of the sound and lights from highway traffic. It also provides habitat for wildlife.
All the land in the area was once part of the Duvall plantation in Colonial days. Henry Doepkins, William's grandfather, bought a large tract in the 1920s. The youngest of the eight children raised on the farm, Mary, married Jack Scible in 1949, and they bought a section of the land in 1951.
That was right about the time Maryland was building Route 50 to hook up to the Bay Bridge which was still under construction. Route 50 split their farm in two.
Then in 1959 the state wanted to buy the nearly 4 acres for the ramp. Jack Scible refused and the land was taken at a reduced rate.
In 1990, SHA wanted to build a salt dome, holding about 1,800 tons of salt at the same location where they now want to store 10,000 tons. But the family and community resisted arguing, in part, that the land was taken for a ramp and nothing else should be built there under terms of the sale.
Now the farm families and their community supporters are gearing up for another effort to hold on.
The SHA expects to reach a decision in the fall.
The Scible family has started an online petition to fight the salt facility: www.change.org/p/maryland-state-highway-administration-edward-reilly-maryland-governor-maryland-state-house-keep-davidsonville-rural-stop-the-mega-salt-barn.