The Tennessee Century Farms Program was created in 1975 by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture as part of our nation’s bicentennial celebration. In 1985, the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University assumed the responsibility for the program. The program was originally designed and continues to be a recognition and documentary effort. The Tennessee Century Farms Program has a farm in all of Tennessee’s 95 counties.
The primary focus of the program is to continue honoring and recognizing the dedication and contributions of families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years. Since its inception, the statewide and ongoing program has 3260 certified farms. Of that number, 52 farms were founded in or prior to the year 1796, the year Tennessee became a state. 30 farms are on the National Register, and 8 are a part of the Land Trust for Tennessee. Additionally, 0 have African-American founders, and 4 were founded by women.
Secondly, it is a documentary program that collects and interprets the agrarian history and culture of the state. The collection has supported the 1985 book, Tennessee Agriculture: A Century Farms Perspective; a traveling exhibit that toured the state from 1988-89; articles in journals and magazines; county displays; local museum exhibits; brochures and booklets; and web sites.
Families choose whether or not to submit an application and be a part of the program. The Century Farms Program places no restrictions on the farm and offers no legal protection.