Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

Blog of the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office

Farms + Family = Heritage

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It’s that time of year again . . . . . not holiday shopping, but Farm Show planning! That’s right, the Pennsylvania Farm Show will be taking place soon, January 9-16, and the SHPO will be there for the whole week. 2016 marks the 100th time Pennsylvania has celebrated agriculture and farmers with a multi-day exhibition in Harrisburg. Building on the number 100, this year we’re partnering with the Department of Agriculture’s Century Farm Program to recognize farms that have been owned and operated by members of the same family for at least 100 years. Our theme this year is “Farms + Family = Heritage.”farm show blog title

Our booth will feature three farms that were designated as Century Farms in 2015, and three farms that are both Century Farms and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. We’ll also be hosting another Historical Marker Scavenger Hunt—be on the lookout for replica Markers placed throughout the Farm Show recognizing everything from individually-wrapped slices of cheese to banana splits—and will include a Marker in our booth to recognize Bradford County Historical Society for starting the Century Farm Program in 1949.

Homan Family Farm, Centre County. Purchased by the Homan family in 1913, the 293-acre farm was listed in the National Register in 1980 and designated a Century Farm in 2014. The Homan family actively farms the land, which is also preserved by an easement. Photos by Dave Maher, PHMC.

Homan Family Farm, Centre County. Purchased by the Homan family in 1913, the 293-acre farm was listed in the National Register in 1980 and designated a Century Farm in 2014. The Homan family actively farms the land, which is also preserved by an easement. Photos by Dave Maher, PHMC.

Homan Farm, Centre County.

Homan Farm, Centre County.

The Century Farm Program became part of the statewide Department of Agriculture in 1976. In 2004 a new category was added for Bicentennial Farms, for properties owned and operated by the same family for over 200 years. The Century Farm Program has recognized more than 2,000 family farms, some in each county of Pennsylvania, except Philadelphia. Each farm designated is owned by a family that, in the words of the Century Farm certificate, “demonstrates a durability and love of the land” that deserves our appreciation and gratitude.

Frock-Boyer Family Farm, Union County. This farm has been in the same family since 1802, and is a newly-designated member of the Century Farm program. Based on a recent visit by SHPO staff, it appears to be eligible for listing in the National Register. The 67-acre farm is used primarily for grain and hay production. Photos by Dave Maher, PHMC.

Frock-Boyer Family Farm, Union County. This farm has been in the same family since 1802, and is a newly-designated member of the Century Farm program. Based on a recent visit by SHPO staff, it appears to be eligible for listing in the National Register. The 67-acre farm is used primarily for grain and hay production. Photos by Dave Maher, PHMC.

Frock-Boyer Farm, Union County.

Frock-Boyer Farm, Union County.

The Farm Show has its roots in 19th century agricultural fairs that were common across the state. In 1916, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Charles Patton worked with assistant agricultural extension director Ed Hibshman and others to organize a new type of agricultural fair. In January 1917, the “Pennsylvania Corn, Fruit, Vegetable, Dairy Products, and Wool Show” was held in a farm machinery dealer’s building in Harrisburg. The Show was a success, and became an annual event, evolving into what is now the Farm Show.

Adams County’s Horner Family Farm, Locust Grove, has been in the Horner family since 1802. The farm has been recognized both as a Century and Bicentennial Farm, and was listed in the National Register in 2007. Current use of the farm includes raising beef cattle. Photos by Don Giles, PHMC.

Adams County’s Horner Family Farm, Locust Grove, has been in the Horner family since 1802. The farm has been recognized both as a Century and Bicentennial Farm, and was listed in the National Register in 2007. Current use of the farm includes raising beef cattle. Photos by Don Giles, PHMC.

Horner Farm, Adams County

Locust Grove Farm, Adams County.

In 1921, the Show presented its first livestock exhibits, for beef and dairy cattle, horses, sheep, and swine. The first livestock competitions and sales were held in 1922. The next year poultry exhibits were included, and the event expanded from three days to five. By 1925, the Show was attracting 40,000 visitors to sites located all around Harrisburg, and in the late 1920s legislators decided to build a dedicated complex for the Farm Show at Cameron and Maclay Streets.

The Farm Show continued to expand, adding participants from 4-H clubs, the Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, the Grange, State Mounted Police, Penn State’s College of Agriculture, and students from vocational schools. The Farm Show includes many popular events ranging from a draft horse hitch competition to the “sheep to shawl contest,” and judging for the best of Pennsylvania’s agricultural products, such as Christmas trees, apples, and wines. And this year, it will feature a few great Century Farms!

Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg. Photo by Don Giles, PHMC.

Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg. Photo by Don Giles, PHMC.

So come out and see us at the Farm Show in January—members of our staff will be there each day, celebrating the Century Farm Program and the many great family farms of Pennsylvania. Friday, January 15, is Century Farm Day, and will include a special ceremony recognizing newly-designated farms. Our 2016 booth will be located near the Maclay Street lobby entrance, across from the Carousel and next to the State Museum’s Archeology exhibit. Around the corner will be an exhibit of rural and farm life presented by the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, Pennsbury Manor, and Somerset Historical Center. And scattered throughout the show will be many Markers, to add to your knowledge and appreciation of Pennsylvania’s agricultural heritage!

Apple Marker at a previous Farm Show. Photo by Scott Doyle, PHMC.

Apple Marker at a previous Farm Show. Photo by Scott Doyle, PHMC.

For more information about the 2016 show, visit http://www.farmshow.state.pa.us/ . To download a copy of our Marker Scavenger Hunt before your trip to the Farm Show, or to request bulk quantities of the booklets in advance of a field trip, visit http://www.farmshow.state.pa.us/page/education.aspx .

Author: April Frantz

April Frantz is the National Register reviewer for the PA SHPO's Eastern Region.

2 Comments

  1. Where can I find a list of the Century Farms in Beaver County?

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