Wilson Family Ohio Historic Family Farms

Part of the Ohio Historic Family Farms Program, Wilson Farm in Jenera, Ohio, still has a barn from 1905. Read their story. Photo by Jeff Adkins/FFM Staff

Dotted throughout every county in Ohio, roughly 1,500 farms celebrate more than 100 years of staying in the family. These farms have weathered tough times like the Great Depression and, in some cases, the Civil War.

A few family farms even predate Ohio’s statehood to earn the highest designation among honorees in the Ohio Historic Family Farms Program.

READ MORE: Historic Family Farms of Ohio

“The program is a nod to the strength and determination of our ancestors who were able to maintain their commitment to agriculture through lean times and prosperous times alike,” says Erin Dillon, program administrator for the Ohio Historic Family Farms Program,
a program of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “When looking through some of the applications and deeds that families send as part of their application, you can tell when they were having hard times. Often, there were more passings of the farm through the family around the Great Depression.”

Three Springs Farm, Ohio Historic Family Farms

Three Springs Farm, Fairfield County. Photo via Ohio Historic Family Farms Program

Ohio Historic Family Farms Mark a Milestone

The Ohio Historic Family Farms Program is a voluntary recognition program that honors families who have maintained their family farms for at least 100 consecutive years and continue to dedicate them to agricultural use today. The program offers three levels of recognition: Century Farms, honoring 100 years or more in the family; Sesquicentennial Farms, 150 years or more; and Bicentennial Farms, 200 years or more.

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As of June 2018, a total of 1,544 Ohio farms had applied and qualified for those designations. Each farm receives a certificate and the opportunity to purchase an outdoor metal sign to celebrate the family farm’s enduring legacy and commitment to Ohio agriculture. The Ohio Department of Agriculture recognizes and thanks those founding farm families for their social, economic and historic contributions to the state.

“The families are very, very proud to install those big metal signs at the end of their lanes and hang those certificates on their living room walls,” Dillon says. “Meanwhile, our current generations working and living on established farms are encouraged to reach those benchmarks of 150 or 200 years.”

Families who feel their farms qualify for recognition through the Ohio Historic Family Farms Program can find applications on the department’s website or at most county recorder offices. The land must currently be dedicated to agricultural use and the family must prove consecutive ownership, often verified through deeds or wills.