A look at Ohio’s history with century farms

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest A conversation with…Cindy Shy, Bicentennial & Century Farms Program Manager for the Ohio Department of AgricultureOCJ: Could you provide a little background about how the Ohio Century Farm Program got started?Cindy: The program started in 1993, a joint effort between the Ohio History Connection, Ohio’s Country Journal and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Families competed to be named as one of eight “Outstanding Ohio Century Farms” each year.OCJ: How has the program evolved through the years?Cindy: The competition lasted 10 years. Having to choose one farm over another back then must have been one tough job! I inherited the program in 2003. Since that year, any farm that qualifies is recognized as either an Ohio Century or Bicentennial Farm. A certificate signed by Governor Kasich and Director Daniels is provided to the family.OCJ: What is the current status of the program and how can eligible farm owners get their farms registered?Cindy: There are now 1,200 farms registered, with at least one farm in each county. We take registrations on an on-going basis — there is no deadline, and no fee to apply. The registration process takes some research — possibly for the family history, but definitely for the deed copies to document the transfers within the family. The registration form is available online (www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/cent_farms/) or by contacting me at [email protected] or 614-752-9817.OCJ: What is your favorite part of being involved with the program?Cindy: The best part is working with the farm families. I get to meet some wonderful people, and hear their great stories. These families are like family to me.OCJ: Why is it important to preserve Ohio’s agricultural heritage through this program?                 Cindy: Ohio wouldn’t be a leading agriculture state now without the hard work of our ancestors. We need to make sure that future generations will know what their family went through and the sacrifices they made. Our ancestors might not have left written histories, but the current generation can ensure that their family’s stories are not forgotten.OCJ: What sort of response do you get from the applicants that have successfully gone through the process?Cindy: The families are typically excited about the recognition, and it can be emotional as well. I will never forget about the man whose Century Farm certificate arrived following the recent death of his father. He said he shed a few tears, and told his family that all he wanted for Christmas was to have the certificate framed.OCJ: What are some of the common themes that you see showing up among Ohio’s Century Farms?Cindy: I can feel the pride in their accomplishments and endurance and a strong love for their family and land. And I see both concern and hopefulness that their farm will continue in the family for generations to come.OCJ: There are also some recognized bi-centennial farms. Do they get separate recognition for that? If so, what?Cindy: It’s amazing to think that more than 80 registered Ohio farms have been in the same family for at least 200 years! We wanted to give these families some special attention, so the program was expanded in 2013 to include the Ohio Bicentennial Farm designation. Each year we arrange a visit to local fairs to present new Bicentennial Farm families with a certificate.OCJ: What is the most important thing you want Ohio agriculture to know about the Century farm Program?Cindy: This program is about you — your farm and your family. Registration is a journey of discovery, well-worth your time and effort. If you haven’t registered, do it!last_img

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