BY LINDSAY MCCOY

Times Bulletin Editor

egebert@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT - Five Van Wert County farms are among 78 farms in the state designated as Ohio Century Farms by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) in 2012. Among the new designees are the Evans Farm (1901), the Hertel Farm (1880), the Morris Farm (1881), the Recker Farm (1848), and the Sawmiller Farm (1902).
Joe and Janet Hertel are the owners of one of the recently named farms. According to Janet Hertel, the farm was originally established and owned by Joe's grandfather, Joseph Hertel, in 1880. There was once a small cabin beside the farm until Joseph built the Hertel family home in the early 1900s. For Christmas this year, the family's children got their parents the special plaque to be placed at the residence to mark being one of the named a Ohio Century Farm. Janet remarked that it was a honor to have the farm recognized for its place in history.

The Century Farm Program is in place to recognize families, such as the Hertels, who have maintained a farm within their family for at least 100 consecutive years. Van Wert currently contains at least 10 of these recognized farms. To commemorate this milestone, each of the families named received a certificate signed by Governor John R. Kasich and the Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture as an addition to the historic documents of their farm to be passed down to future generations.

"Van Wert has many older farms but have changed hands over time," said OSU Extension Educator Curtis Young. "Also, farms wishing to be recognized must first be registered." As a result, only a few of the century-old farms in existence can claim this honorable recognition. First-ever registrations in 2012 occurred in Athens, Noble, and Pike Counties. With these additions, there is now at least one Ohio Century Farm registered in each of Ohio's 88 counties.

There are now over 950 registered Ohio Century Farms with the oldest registered farm resting in Adams County. Smiley Farm, established in 1772, is now more than 240 years old. The farm was deeded to Alexander Smiley from King George III and was originally part of the Virginia territory.

Those who wish to register can do so at www.agri.ohio.gov by clicking on "Promotional Programs" and then "Century Farm Recognition". The Hertels found the registration process to be a very easy one, and others in the area have already shown interest in having their own farms recognized. Those interested must be able to verify that their currently-owned farm has remained in their family for at least 100 years.