MURFREESBORO— The Vise Farm I and Vise Farm II, in Decatur County and I have been designated as Tennessee Century Farms, reports Caneta S. Hankins, director of the Century Farms Program at the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU.
The Century Farms Program recognizes the contributions of Tennessee residents who have owned and kept family land in continuous agricultural production for at least 100 years.
Two Century Farms originated with George Malachi “Mal” and his wife, Sarah Tennessee “Tennie” Smith Vise, when they established a 220-acre farm southeast of Decaturville in 1909. The couple who had seven children, raised mules, horses, and hogs while growing corn, sorghum and vegetables. The family also ran a store, Mal Vise and Sons. Mal died in 1926 and left the farm to his son John Wesley Vise.
The same year John inherited the family farm, his first wife died, leaving him with eight young children. Tennie, his mother, stayed with him and helped raise the children. Like his father, John operated the store while adding cotton, peanuts, hay, sheep, and cattle to the crops and livestock raised on the farm. Two of John’s sons, Earnest “Roach” and James Landon “Pig” Vise, remained on the farm and worked it with their father. They also purchased land of their own that surrounded the existing farm acreage.
In 1977, Roach acquired 108 acres and Pig acquired 112 acres of the family farm. Both grew corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, milo and cotton and raised pigs, cattle, sheep, and timber. Roach married Billie Burton McCurry and had one daughter, Sarah Ann. Pig married Emily Ann Jennings and they had three children; James Douglas, Ronnie Frank and Joy Elizabeth Vise. The Vise brothers and their families, though owning separate land parcels, worked together and were very involved in their community’s agricultural programs like Future Farmers of America, 4-H, the Farm Bureau and livestock organizations.
The next generation to assume management and ownership of their parents’ farms were Sarah Ann Vise and her cousin James Douglas Vise. James married Hilda Jane White and had three children – Tracy, Beronica, and Stacy. Sarah Ann, who has retired after 40 years of teaching, rents the Vise Farm I land to Stacy, her second cousin, who also co-owns the Vise Farm II with his father. Though he grows many of the same crops as previous generations, Stacy uses modern technology to plant 30,000 seeds per acre.
“We now use self-propelled sprayers with GPS systems, grid soil sampling, special spreading trucks, and self-propelled combines,” he said. Stacy, who holds a degree in animal science from MTSU, is an award-winning farmer. He and his wife, Tara Lenay Turnbo, have two children who participate in 4-H. The Vise family combines 20th-century history and buildings, including the 1910 farmhouse, with 21st century farming methods.
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.
For more information about the Century Farms Program, please visit www.tncenturyfarms.org. The Center for Historic Preservation also may be contacted at Box 80, MTSU, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 37132 or 615-898-2947.
• ATTENTION, MEDIA: To interview the farm’s owner or request jpegs of the farm for editorial use, please contact the CHP at 615-898-2947.
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