Tennessee Century Farms
The Tennessee Century Farms Program is a public program that honors family farmers who have kept continuously owned family land in agricultural production for at least the last one hundred years. Established by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture in 1975-76 as a special bicentennial project, the initial survey identified approximately six hundred Tennessee farm families who joined the program and submitted the required farm history, certification by a county historian and/or extension agent, and photographs. In 1985 the Oscar Farris Agricultural Museum at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture asked the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University to assist in updating the histories of eligible farms and to prepare a history book about the state’s Century Farms. When its survey was completed in 1986, 783 eligible Tennessee Century Farms had been identified and were included in the subsequent book, Tennessee Agriculture: A Century Farms Perspective, by the center’s Carroll Van West. The MTSU Center for Historic Preservation continues to accept the applications of eligible farms. As part of its rural history and preservation program, the center extended the initial book project into a traveling exhibit about Tennessee’s family farm history curated by Caneta S. Hankins which toured the state in 1988-89; developed heritage education curricula centered on a family farm as a teaching laboratory; and established a program of historic preservation assistance, through which eligible farm families may request that the center prepare a nomination for their farm to the National Register of Historic Places. The center has also prepared a National Register multiple property nomination for historic family farms in Middle Tennessee. Due to the joint efforts of the Tennessee Agricultural Museum, the Department of Agriculture, county extension agents, county historians, and the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, Tennessee has one of the most comprehensive history projects pertaining to family farms in the country.