In the South, history is more than the past – it’s a family’s heritage. Honoring that heritage is as vital to Alabamians as the rivers that give life to the Heart of Dixie.
Farm owners interested in honoring that heritage may apply for the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries’ (ADAI) 2015 Century and Heritage Farm program, available until Aug. 28.
The Century and Heritage Farm program was established in 1976 to recognize and honor century-old family farms that played a significant role in Alabama’s history.
Wilcox County’s Cook Timber and Wildlife Farm was named an Alabama Century and Heritage Farm last year, joining over 580 designated Alabama farms.
“I feel so blessed we have been able to maintain ownership of this farmland my ancestors worked so hard to purchase almost two centuries ago,” said Bill Cook, who owns the property with his wife, Marsha. “I know there must have been many tough times over the past 180 years, but somehow they persevered and kept the farm in our family.”
The Cook property entered the family’s history books when Daniel Cook Sr., Bill Cook’s great-great-grandfather, purchased the land in 1831.
ADAI guidelines allow farms to be both Century and Heritage Farms, although the two are not synonymous.
Century Farms must have been in one family for at least 100 years and currently have agricultural activities on the farm.
Heritage Farms must have been continuously operated as family farms for a minimum of 100 years, are at least 40 acres and have noteworthy historical and agricultural aspects, including a 40-year-old structure.
The Century and Heritage Farm programs have recognized century-old family farms for almost 40 years and began when rural Alabama’s population and family farms were diminishing through urbanization, said Amy Belcher, ADAI communications director.
ADAI Commissioner John McMillan will award qualified farms an Alabama Century and Heritage Farm sign and certificate early next year.
Interested applicants should contact Belcher at (334) 240-7126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.