In 2017, the Virginia Century Farm program celebrated 20 years of recognizing and honoring farms across the state that have been in operation and owned by the same family for at least 100 consecutive years. The program also honors those who have maintained these farms, helping provide nourishment to Commonwealth communities and beyond while contributing to the state’s economy.
Approximately 1,400 farms are currently part of the Virginia Century Farm program, with qualifying families receiving a certificate signed by the Governor and the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), and a sign reflecting their inclusion.
Orchard Crest and Oaklawn Farm
Located in Loudoun County, Orchard Crest became a Virginia Century Farm when the program was established in 1997. The Potts family has owned the farm since 1747 when it was founded by David Potts, and today it is primarily operated by Eddie Potts – a 10th-generation farmer – with the help of his father, 92-year-old Edwin Potts.
According to Eddie’s daughter, Lindsay Reames, who grew up on the Orchard Crest homestead and served under Governor Terry McAuliffe as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry for Virginia, the farm has evolved many times over the years and now raises beef cattle, row crops and hay.
“We are honored to have our operation recognized by the state,” Reames says. “It means a lot to my family and me to know we are carrying on the work of previous generations. It’s a big responsibility, and we take a lot of pride in knowing we are preserving the work of those who came before us. It’s a good feeling to know our land has served multiple generations.”
Reames now lives in Amelia County on another Virginia Century Farm, Oaklawn Farm, with her husband, Tony, and their two children. Oaklawn Farm, which has been owned by the Reames family since 1911, is primarily operated by Tony and comprises a beef cattle operation along with corn, soybeans, hay and other crops.
“Our children are very young, but they are already showing an interest in agriculture and farming,” Lindsay says. “We would love to see both Virginia Century Farms we’re connected to pass on to the next generation.”
Virginia Century Forest Program
Managed by the Virginia Department of Forestry, the program is the first of its kind in the nation, and honors forest landowners whose property have been in operation for at least 100 consecutive years and have a minimum of 20 contiguous acres of managed forest.
Additionally, to qualify for designation as a Virginia Century Forest, the forestland must be lived on or managed by a descendant of the original owners and have a history of timber harvests or forest-management activities.
When a property is approved by the State Forester and becomes a Virginia Century Forest, landowners receive a certificate signed by the Governor and a Virginia Century Forest sign.
Twenty-three families were inducted into the program’s inaugural class, and many more are expected to join in the coming years.