FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 18, 2007
CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947
GREENE COUNTY FARM JOINS RANKS OF STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
Southerland Farm Becomes 42nd Farm in County to be Recognized by Program
(MURFREESBORO)—The Southerland Farm in Greene 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.
Known as the Southerland Farm today, at the turn of the 20th century this property was owned by John Bowers. In 1900 he transferred a portion of that land to Mary Bowers, and in 1901, Mary married Thomas H. “T. H.” Foreman. On 76 acres, they and their nine children raised tobacco, hay and cattle. T. H. was also a mail carrier and taught school in the Meadow Creek community.
In 1939, Hugh Foreman acquired his parents’ farm. Married to Flossie Foreman, the couple had three children—James H. “Bobby” Foreman, Lowell Foreman and Charlsie Foreman Wilson.
Gwyn Southerland, the current owner and granddaughter of Flossie, recalled her grandmother as “a wonderful, hard-working woman.” When workers came to the farm to cut tobacco, she would cook “chicken and gravy and homemade light bread with all the trimmings.” The men would eat their fill, then go sit or lie “under the two 100-year-old pecan trees in the yard.” Flossie and Hugh are buried in the cemetery of the Meadow Creek Presbyterian Church.
Bobby Foreman was the next generation to own the land. He and his wife, Marlene Goins Foreman, and their two children, Beverly Gwyn and Jamie, raised tobacco, corn and black angus cattle. In October 1997, Beverly Gwyn and her husband, Jerry A. Southerland Jr., became the owners of the property. They and their son, Jeremy, live in a 1920 house while their daughter Annie and husband Chris Bailey and their children, Preston, 4, and Autumn, 2, also live on the farm.
Gwyn and Jerry work and manage the farm selling hay, fodder and pumpkins in season. This is their third year to hold a fall crafts fair on Southerland Farms.
Hankins said this farm is the 42nd certified Century Farm in Greene County.
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 CHP 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.