Area farm celebrates a century of hard work

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette The Fenstamaker Farm on Quarry Road in Limestone Township which was recognized as Pennsylvania Century Farm.

Farming is “a tough business,” according to David Fenstermaker.

Nonetheless, he continues to turn the soil and nurture crops at a Limestone Township farm that has been in his family since 1908.

This week, the farm was designated as a Century Farm by the state Department of Agriculture.

“It’s not just about farming,” said state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, who visited the farm to present the award to David and Donna Fenstermaker, noting Lycoming County is home to 68 century farms and two bicentennial farms. “It’s about preserving something that has been in your family for more than 100 years and a family tradition.”

The farm originally was purchased by David’s great-great aunt, Alice (Fenstermaker) Gann, on July 28, 1908.

Alice passed the farm to her daughter Helen in 1947. After Helen and her husband died, their son Edwin Snyder became owner. The farmhouse, barn and other buildings on the farm, in addition to 40 acres, were purchased by David and Donna Fenstermaker from Snyder in 1998.

In 2013, the remaining acres and farm buildings were sold to the couple and David’s son, Sam Fenstermaker, after Edwin passed away.

The farm has always been a crop farm and produces mostly corn, but also wheat, oats, beans and hay. Fourteen steer and two horses also call the farm home.

David said he doesn’t farm for the money, but because he loves it.

“There is no money in farming at all,” he said. “The yields are a lot higher and the profits are the same. Corn last year was worth the same as it was in 1974 — a 43-year difference and the price was the same. It’s a tough business.”

With his son living next door and two daughters in other parts of the state, David said he hopes the farm stays in the family for a couple more generations.

At 64 years old, David lives in the home that he moved into when he was 5.

“My dad and all his six brothers and sisters grew up here” said David. “There is just so much history here.”

His grandfather, Vernus, farmed alongside his father John Fenstermaker, who passed his knowledge of farming onto his son. The two farmed the property together until John’s death in 2017.

David, who drove truck as an adult, said he enjoyed growing up on a farm.

“There was always some kind of trouble you could get into,” as well as the range of pets a farm boy could have. When he was 12 and started hunting, he only had to walk out the back door to track game on his family’s property.

David still uses the same John Deere tractor his grandfather used in 1958.

“My son and I enjoy getting it out and listening to it putt,” he said, noting Vernus farmed with horses until he got the tractor.

Asked what he enjoys about farming, he said: “I like going out in the fields. Nobody bothers you. I like the solitude. I got tired of driving truck and the traffic and the congestion. I’m old enough to retire so I’m gonna farm till I go broke. We just enjoy it.”

About being recognized as a Century Farm, David credits the relatives who came before him.

“They’re the ones that hung onto it,” he said. “I’m the Johnny-come-lately. I know most of my relatives are very tickled that the farm is still in the family.”

“I think it’s just wonderful,” being a Century Farm, his wife Donna Fenstermaker said. “I just love everything about the farm.”

“It’s a lot of work, but you know what they say, if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life,” said David. “We are tickled to death to be here. I hope it stays in the family for another 100 years.”