“Mike would have been devastated if we didn’t open,” said Adrianne Dunn, as she recalled this season’s opening day at Montpelier Farms — a farm she and her late husband Mike Dunn started back in 2007. Mike Dunn, a Virginia native and Maryland farmer, unexpectedly died less than two weeks before the farm was set to open for its 8th Fall agritourism season — at the age of 46.
Montpelier Farms is a working farm, growing vegetables, corn, beans and pumpkins, as well as straw and hay. Adrianne, who started the farm with Mike less than a decade ago, “from pretty much nothing”, was expecting more than 50,000 visitors this year; during the fall months, the farm is an agritourism family destination.
Opening day was a somber one; Mike’s memory was honored with a favorite photo of him, enlarged and framed, placed in a position of prominence in the barn. A collection of some of Mike’s favorite things were placed around the photo tribute, “Mike had a thing for Diet Coke,” she said, “we placed one there, it said ‘Michael’ on it.”
“Mike was loved by so many people,” Adrianne said. She attributes some of that admiration to his innate ability to connect with people through a teacher’s approach. “Mike’s mom was an educator, always sharing her knowledge,” she said, believing he took that from her. “He would laugh with you or joke with you, but he always wanted you to improve, he wanted you to get better, and he liked to learn as well”.
When speaking of the day Mike died, Adrianne remembers it as a “great day” for her husband. “He saw everybody he loved that day,” she says, with a quiet tremble in her voice. Adrianne, retracing that day and the events leading up to Mike’s passing, is comforted in knowing he spent the day with the people he loved, doing what he loved — even barbecuing. It was the last family event of the summer and a full day of family-get-togethers.
“It was a massive heart attack” she says, alluding to a family history of heart disease. “He took care of himself”, she said. “He was such a family man, his family was always number one and he wanted to be around to see his daughter grow up — he lived for her.”
While Adrianne struggles to put into perspective the last moments of Mike’s life, she is comforted by the support and communications from those within the farming community and the North American Direct Farmers Direct Marketing Association, where Mike served on the Board of Directors. “Not only did many of the NAFDMA Board Members attend Mike’s funeral, but also many NAFDMA members from all over the United States and Canada” came to show their respect and support. “Mike was very close with many members, I’d go as far as to say that some of his very best friends were formed through NAFDMA.”
Memorial contributions may be made in Mike Dunn’s honor to Southern High School FFA, 4400 Solomons Island Rd., Harwood, MD 20776.