The Hedges Farm in Fayette County has been recognized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) as a “Bicentennial Farm.”
On Tuesday at the Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District annual meeting, ODA Director David Daniels presented the award to the Hedges family.
The ODA recognizes the social, economic and historic contributions of Ohio’s family farms through its Ohio Historic Family Farms program, which recognizes farms that have remained in the same family for at least 100 years. More than 1,500 farms are registered as century, sesquicentennial or bicentennial farms, with at least two farms represented in each of the state’s 88 counties.
The Hedges farm is now added to that bicentennial farm list.
Founder James Stewart was born to Hugh and Margaret Stewart in Hagerstown, Md. in 1786. The family moved to Ohio when James was a young adult in 1809. James purchased 100 acres of land in what was at the time Ross County.
By 1810, the area had been annexed to form a part of Fayette County. The first county commissioners’ meeting was held in Stewart’s cabin in 1810. In 1815, Stewart acquired 400 acres of land in the southeast corner of Paint Township. Stewart grew crops and raised livestock on the land, where the original farmhouse still stands.
The current owners, Nancy Robinson, Jackson Hedges, Frank Hedges, Joan Gale and Susan Kirk, are eight generations removed from the founder, but still own 321.33 acres of the original farm. Matt and Christy Wilt live in the original farmhouse and produce corn, soybeans and wheat, and raise cattle on the land.
In 1993, the ODA began collaborating with Ohio’s Country Journal and the Ohio Historical Society to administer the Outstanding Ohio Century Farm Program. Annually, eight regional Outstanding Century Farms were announced at the Ohio State Fair, and one overall winner was announced at the Farm Science Review.
In 2003, the department became the sole sponsor of the program, and the Outstanding Ohio Century Farm program evolved into the Ohio Century Farm program. To recognize the special history of each of these farms, the department presented certificates signed by the governor and the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture to all registered farm families.
In 2013, the department adopted the Ohio Bicentennial Farm title to distinguish those farms which had reached 200 years of same-family ownership. That year, the department began recognizing bicentennial farm families at local events.
The Ohio Sesquicentennial Farm designation was added to the historic farms program in 2016 for families who reach 150 years of farm ownership.
The department commissioned an official yard sign available to century farm owners in 2005, a bicentennial farm sign in 2014, and a sesquicentennial farm sign in 2016. These signs are now displayed across the state.