A Farming Heritage

When we think about family heirlooms, images of fine jewelry, antique furniture and vintage photos often come to mind. But for hundreds of families in Ohio, passing down the family farm from one generation to the next is a practice that’s been happening for decades.

Farms or homesteads that have been owned by the same family for more than 100 consecutive years are commonly called “century farms.” In Ohio, dozens of family owned farms are recognized annually by the Department of Agriculture with the Ohio Century Farms Program. To date, more than 850 farms throughout Ohio have been registered with the program, which was launched in 1993. Though the program has existed for nearly 20 years, most families learn about the program by word of mouth.

“Many families find out about the Century Farms Program by talking with their neighbors about a neighboring farm that was recently registered,” said Cindy Shy, program manager in a recent article in The Post. “It’s a matter of outreach, just getting the word out to the families that qualify for century farm registration.”

In Belmont County, Bob and Marietta Martin are the proud owners of a farm that has been in the Martin family for more than 200 years and the couple received a century farm designation several years ago.

Their charming, well-kept farm, which was featured in Our Ohio magazine, has been home to five generations and they have the historical documents, including the original deed given to James White — Bob Martin’s great-great grandfather — displayed on the dining-room wall to prove it.

To receive century farm designation, applicants must complete a six-part registration process that includes providing a history and current photo of the farm with deed documentation that shows a continuous chain of ownership by family members.

In January, 52 additional farms were added to Ohio’s increasing list of century farms. Currently, there are registered farms throughout 85 of the state’s 88 counties. The only counties without century farms are Athens, Noble and Pike.

Celebrating century farms isn’t just an Ohio thing. There are similar recognition programs throughout the U.S., including The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, which recently launched a website that includes an interactive map and profiles of century farms throughout the country.

Do you have a farm that’s been in your family for more than 100 years or know someone who does? Then visit the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s website about how to register for century-farm status.

Photo obtained from: scenicreflections.com

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