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 more than 2100 certified farms. That number includes Pioneer Century Farms (farms founded in or prior to the year 1796, the year Tennessee became a state), farms on the National Register, farms that are a part of the Land Trust for Tennessee, farms with African American founders, and farms 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.