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  • Writer's pictureMaryland Forests

Did you know that timberland can be managed for multiple uses?

Meet Rick & Kathy Abend, owners of Abend Hafen Tree Farm in Dorchester County, MD


What started as a hunting property for Rick Abend has evolved into a multifunctional forest and wildlife habitat that he and his wife, Kathy, continue to build upon.

“It has been a joy,” says Kathy, who’s quick to point out all the accolades and awards for them — such as 2014 Tree Farmer of the Year from the Maryland Tree Farm Committee and 2018 Chesapeake Forest Champions from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and U.S. Forest Service — didn’t start until after she and Rick were married. Whether hosting birders or delegations from the Chinese government, their stewardship of the land has attracted people from Maryland, all over the country, and beyond.

It started in 1972 when Rick bought 50 acres of land in Dorchester County, where he was taken as a kid to hunt. At that time, he had no idea what to do with his new land parcel. Soon enough, that changed. But, as Rick says, “we knew we wanted to leave the land in better shape than we found it.” Using his veterans benefits to take conservation courses in forestry and wildlife management pointed him in the right direction.

The range of land management goals the Abends developed over the decades runs the gamut, from a pond and impoundments for supporting waterfowl, including the always stunning wood duck, to pollinator plants to prescribed burns. When it comes to timber harvests, select harvests have been their method of choice since the 1980s, leaving old-growth trees and high-value native trees, such as oak and beech, for wildlife.

When Hurricanes Irene and Sandy hit, Rick and Kathy adapted as they do best and sold firewood from some of the trees taken out by the storms. Their active recovery and restoration of storm-damaged forest stands or timber harvest sites demonstrate that their eyes are on the woodland floor and the canopy, with a firm understanding of the value of the renewable, regenerative resource that their forest is. With this knowledge in tow, they are happy to share and participate in conservation education, with various ages of forest stands and a range of wildlife habitats to show to all visitors of their property. In addition, the Abend’s have showcased how woody biomass and forest products are part of a multipurpose landscape that is sustainable and resilient.

The couple is very active in agritourism on the farm. The 106-acre property is listed on Airbnb as Madison Nature Getaway, where guests can hike the woods trails, photograph nature, or just relax in the swing by the pond. They are welcome anywhere on the farm during their stay. “I didn’t realize how it would enrich our lives to see people getting respite and enjoying the land at the farm,” Kathy says. Many of their guests are drawn to the farm in Dorchester County because of its proximity to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Rick has been actively involved with the Friends of Blackwater since the early 2000s, a passion that grew from his visits with his brothers back in the ‘60s.

There is no better way to describe the Abends than hands-on and engaged with their property. They know how their decisions benefit future generations of people and wildlife. One of the amazing things about this super-steward couple is that they are “always looking to learn” new things about their evolving landscape. One example of that is joining the University of MD Extension Delmarva Woodland Stewards program, a recent collaboration between the university and the MD Forest Service. Rick and Kathy have also volunteered as Maryland Woodland Stewards for years.

Their list of organization partners and collaborators is endless, including Rick’s time serving on Forestry Boards and the Maryland Tree Farm Committee, plus their collaboration with the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy on an easement covering 90+ acres of their land. Needless to say, the Abends are wired into and an integral part of the land management and forestry community.

Conservation education is important to them, and they have hosted hundreds of folks from various agencies and organizations, but they are very eager to get more youth out to the farm. Part of these efforts have been through collaboration with Project Learning Tree and the MD Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education. The Abends have volunteered the farm as “a learning lab,” says Rick, and they are excited about future workshops.

Despite an impressive array of partners over all these years, Rick and Kathy remind themselves that it all started with a forest management plan in 1975 and their current irreplaceable project forester Scott Daniels from the MD Forest Service. “It all starts with a vision, an evolving dream, and it takes a forester and a management plan to make it come true,” adds Kathy. The Abends have always loved and respected their land, and now it’s about educating, sharing, and leaving it in great shape for the next generation.


Photo Credit: EDWIN REMSBERG PHOTOGRAPHS and Rick and Kathy Abend

Written By: Francis Smith, Natural Resource Planner- Maryland Forest Service

Project Support: Maryland DNR as part of the Delmarva Woodland Stewards Grant, the Maryland Department of Commerce, and the Rural Maryland Council.


View this video to learn more about The Abend Family and their decision to preserve their land via a donated easement through the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.

Click here to learn more about the Chronological History of Forest Management and Wildlife Management at Abend Hafen Farm

Want to visit Abend Hafen as a guest? Check them out on Madison Nature Getaway on Airbnb using this link:


Join us at these upcoming events! Click on the images below to learn more.


Rick and Kathy have volunteered at MFA events over the years and have graciously hosted tours of the farm, and had it available for forestry board activities and meetings. The pictures above are from some of those events.

If you've had a tasty treat at an MFA event hosted in Dorchester County, it was likely provided by Kathy's Custom Cakes & Pasteries. Click here to learn more and to support her local business!



Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Friends of Blackwater

Maryland's Forests- Great for the Environment and the Economy

Why Join MFA?


Click here to learn more about MFA's Faces of Forestry project.

If you are interested in becoming one of our "faces," contact Beth Hill at 410-463-1755




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