Agriculture Department honors 2 longstanding farm families
Rock Springs – Agriculture Secretary George Greig recognized two Pennsylvania farm families for their longstanding contributions to Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry at Penn State’s Ag Progress Days in Centre County.
He honored Wayne E. and Robin L. Homan and family, of Pennsylvania Furnace, Centre County, with a Century Farm designation, and Robert E. and Deborah A. Jackson and family, of Apollo, Armstrong County, with a Bicentennial Farm designation.
“Since before this land was known as Penn’s Woods, Pennsylvania farmers have helped feed the world, and made history in the process,” Greig said. “By recognizing the families who are carrying on their agriculture tradition into the farm’s next century, we’re highlighting the work of Pennsylvania’s past, which is key to its future.”
The state Department of Agriculture administers the Century and Bicentennial Farm Program, which helps promote the strength and durability of Pennsylvania’s farm families and recognizes families who have been farming the same land for 100 years and 200 years, respectively.
Since the Century Farm program’s inception in 1977 and the creation of the Bicentennial Farm program in 2004, the department has recognized 1,942 Century and 166 Bicentennial Farms.
The Homan farm was purchased March 29, 1913. Nearly 293 of the original 295 acres, purchased for $40.47 per acre, still are owned and farmed by the family. The farm primarily produces grain and hay and was preserved in 1996.
Centre County is home to four Bicentennial and 34 Century farms.
The house was built in 1858 as a wedding present for Jane Lyons and Col. Bucher Ayers. Ayers graduated from Dickinson College, worked for Secretary of State Daniel Webster and became superintendent of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad.
Lyons was the daughter of John Lyons, owner of the nearby Pennsylvania Furnace iron works, who financed construction of the house as a wedding gift. The farm’s outbuildings date to before the 1913 purchase.
The Jackson farm was purchased April 7, 1797, by John Jackson, an Irish immigrant who first lived in Hannahstown, Chester County, before moving to Armstrong County. All 50 of the acres he purchased remain part of the farm today.
While the original home burnt in 1880, the foundation and chimney from the old house remain.
The current home dates to 1900. Gen. Samuel McCartney Jackson often brought to the farm his young grandson, and later actor, Jimmy Stewart.
Today the farm produces mainly corn and hay.
Armstrong County is home to four Bicentennial and 55 Century farms.
To be eligible for the program, a farm must be owned by the same family for at least 100 consecutive years. A family member must live on the farm on a permanent basis, and the farm must include at least 10 acres of the original holding or gross more than $1,000 annually from the sale of farm products.
The Bicentennial Farm Program follows the same guidelines but requires 200 consecutive years of ownership.
Farm history is filed in the archives of the Pennsylvania State Historical and Museum Commission.
For more information, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and search “Century Farm” or “Bicentennial Farm” or call 717-705-7796.