John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.
Agriculture has been a huge part of North Florida, as well as around the world. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) realizes the benefit for family farms and ranches to be recognized as the original stewards of the land that preserves ecological resources and provides an economic base for Florida’s economy.
Through the Century Pioneer Family Farm Program, FDACS would like to identify family farms and ranches as pioneers of the agricultural industry for all the hard work and time these workers have put into preserving the agricultural scene over the last century.
According to freshfromflorida.com, the Century Pioneer Family Farm Program was initiated in 1985 by the FDACS and honors families who have maintained at least 100 years of continuous family farm ownership.
Ownership of property by a family for 100 years or more can be determined from an abstract of title or original record such as original deed or land patents. Other authentic land records may be acceptable. The farm, in whole or in part, must have been in continuous family ownership. Title to the property today must reside with a blood relative of the original owner, or a legally adopted child of a descendant. Title to the property must be continuous.
There have been 14 Century Pioneer Family Farms recognized for their family farming longevity legacy. Those farms are recognized through the following people: Hugh Wetzel Blair, W.H. Cason, Jeanette Haden, Mary Lilla Johnson, Clifford Leslie, Dewayne Leslie, Donald F. Loper, Waldon Leroy Richardson, Harvey E. Rye Sr., James J. Sale Jr., Edward W. Smith Jr., W.J. Spradley Jr., Donnie Glenn Waldrep and Albert W. Waldrep.
Dewayne Leslie’s family has held the deed to the Leslie farm for well over 100 years. Just north of Madison sits the farm that was deeded in 1850 – 167 years ago. Leslie, who is a fifth generation farmer, stated that “it’s mighty good,” to be recognized for holding the deed and continuing a family legacy. “We’re blessed,” said Leslie. In the past, the Leslies have raised cattle, and have grown peanuts, soy beans, corn, peas, and watermelons.
Want to be apart of the list? Visit freshfromflorida.com/agriculture-industry to apply. The requirements for the award are: ownership of property by family for 100 years or more, continuous family ownership and only one certificate issued per property. You may apply online or mail your application to Katherine Goletz with the FDACS, at PL-10, The Capitol, Tallahassee, Fl. 32399.
In addition to receiving a certificate, Century Pioneer Family Farms also receive a sign that can be posted on the property denoting its significance.