CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947
KNOX COUNTY FARM JOINS RANKS OF STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
Prater Farm Sixth Property in Knox County to be Recognized for Contributions
(MURFREESBORO)—The Prater Farm in Knox County has been designated as a Tennessee Century Farm, reported Caneta S. Hankins, director of the Century Farms program at the Center for Historic Preservation (CHP), which is located on the MTSU campus.
The Prater Farm shares a large part of its history with another Knox County property, River View Farm, which was certified as a Century Farm in 2005. Collectively, these farms are part of more than 1,000 acres purchased in 1801 by Benjamin Prater.
According to CHP records, Benjamin and his wife, Nancy Lane, had seven children and raised cattle, corn, and wheat for food, horses for farm labor and transportation and sheep for food and clothing. Their son, Samuel, was the next generation to own the farm in 1851, and his son, Alexander, the third generation of the family to farm the land.
As the Praters continued to farm the land throughout the 19th and into the 20th century, William Hugh Prater acquired the property around 1936. While the Tennessee Valley Authority flooded much of the region, the family reported that William Hugh Prater, who died at the age of 95 in 2003, loved his land and refused to sell it to TVA. Under William’s ownership, the farm produced cattle, sheep, hay, wheat, corn and watermelons, goats, tobacco and pigs. He and his wife, Lorene Lox Prater, had three daughters, Elsie, Adriance Guider and Martha Webb.
In 2002, these siblings, who are the great-great great-granddaughters of Benjamin and Nancy Lane Prater, acquired about 360 acres of the acreage. Elsie noted that they have been active members in the Farm Bureau for many years, and today, they raise cattle, milk goats, hay and horses.
Today, a 19th century log house, smokehouse and several barns remain on this farm that their ancestors founded more than two centuries ago. Hankins said the Prater Farm’s addition to the program brings the number of certified Century Farms in Knox County to six.
The Century Farm Program recognizes the contributions of Tennessee residents who have continuously owned, and kept in production, family land for at least 100 years. Since 1984, the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU has been a leader in the important work of documenting Tennessee’s agricultural heritage and history through the Tennessee Century Farm Program, and continues to administer this program.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) began the Tennessee Century Farm Program in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial. Today, the TDA provides a metal outdoor sign, noting either 100, 150 or 200 years of “continuous agricultural production” to Century Farm families.
To be considered for eligibility, a farm must be owned by the same family for at least 100 years; must produce $1,000 revenue annually; must have at least 10 acres of the original farm; and one owner must be a resident of Tennessee.
“The Century Farmers represent all the farm families of Tennessee,” Hankins said, “and their contributions to the economy, and to the social, cultural, and agrarian vitality of the state, both past and present, is immeasurable. Each farm is a Tennessee treasure.”
For more information about the Century Farms Program, please visit its Web site at http://histpres.mtsu.edu/histpres. The Center for Historic Preservation also may be contacted via mail at Box 80, MTSU, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 37132, or by telephone at 615-898-2947.
ATTENTION, MEDIA: To interview Hankins or the farm’s owners, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.