Highlighting the impacts agriculture makes throughout the commonwealth, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding visited the Weller Family Farm in Middleburg, Snyder County, acknowledging the farm’s nearly 150-year history.
“Whenever I have an opportunity to visit our farmers on their farms, I’ve had a good day in agriculture,” said Redding. “The Weller Farm has a lot of history tied to it. While built in 1869, the land still has some of its original buildings intact. We have a rich agricultural history here in Pennsylvania and because of the core values farmers like the Wellers possess, our state’s agriculture industry continues to be successful. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to stop by and thank them for all they do for Pennsylvania agriculture in person.”
The Pennsylvania 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 that 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 Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has recognized 1,986 Century and 167 Bicentennial Farms.
When the farm was originally purchased in 1869, the 100-acre property cost $42 an acre. The original owner, John Mertz, not only farmed the land, but also supplemented his income by constructing buildings to support his wife and six children. Many of Mertz’s buildings still stand today. The current family farm house was built in 1891, and Richard and Betty Weller took over the farm in 1974. Today the farm is a crop farm and is one of the 15 Century Farms in Snyder County. Snyder County is also home to three Bicentennial Farms.
To be eligible for the Centennial and Bicentennial Farm 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.