Tuesday, June 24, 2008


CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947

100-Year-Old Ayres Farm Becomes County’s Newest Century Farm

(MURFREESBORO)—The Ayres Farm in Robertson 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, which is located on the MTSU campus.
“It was 100 years ago this past April that Daniel Pinkney and Mary Ayres acquired just over 80 acres in Cedar Hill,” said Hankins of the farm’s founders, who had three sons, Joseph, Jack and William, and raised tobacco and corn.
The second owner of the land was Daniel’s brother, James Madison Ayres. He acquired the property in 1910. He and his wife Mary Elizabeth reared five children: Bessie Ellen, James Louis, Willie Stephen, Samuel Lee and Wallace. During this generation, the farm produced corn, tobacco and wheat.
In 1931, James Louis Ayres became the third generation to own the farm. James Louis married Virginia Ewing; their three children were Clarence Edward, James Daniel and Betty Ann. Growing up during the Great Depression, James Daniel remembered that the family was reasonably self-sufficient. He reports that everyone worked hard to produce corn, tobacco, dairy cattle, hogs and chickens for the family’s table and to sell. He also recalled that though their house was small, “We always had room for family or friends who had no other place to live.”
In 1945, the farm received electricity and in the early 1950s, the family’s first telephone was on an eight-party line.
In 1981, James Daniel, married to Billie Ann, became the fourth generation of the Ayres family to own the farm. Their son, Jeff, produces corn, tobacco, hay and beef cattle on the property that is now celebrating a century of family ownership and agricultural production.
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 began the Tennessee Century Farm Program in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial. Today, the TDA provides a metal outdoor sign denoting 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 the farm’s owner or request a jpeg of the Century Farm metal sign that is presented to farm owners, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.

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