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Ohio's Historic Family Farms Program
The Bargar Farm, c. 1893. Photo courtesy of M. Heavilin, Harrison County Century Farm, Est. 1834.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture recognizes the many social, economic and historic contributions made by Ohio's founding farm families. Ohio's Historic Family Farms program was developed as a way to honor these families for their enduring legacy to our state.

The program grants three designations based on the number of years of same-family ownership:

Century Farm Sign Logo
Century Farms (100-149 years);

Sesquicentennial Farm Sign Logo
Sesquicentennial Farms (150-199 years); and

Bicentennial Farm Sign Logo
Bicentennial Farms (200 years and more).

Qualified registrants receive an heirloom certificate signed by the Governor of Ohio and the Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Download and print the registration form to apply. Registrants may choose to display a yard sign commemorating their historic farm designation. A sign order form will be provided to to each family once their Historic Family Farms application is approved. 

How to Register

The registration form is available for download on the right hand side of this page. A hard copy may be requested by calling 614-752-4505.

Registration requirements include:

  • The farm must consist of ten or more acres devoted to agriculture use. If the farm is less than ten acres, it must produce an average yearly gross income of at least $2,500. Land under a land retirement or conservation program in agreement with the federal government qualifies. See “Ownership Rules” below. 
  • All six sections of the registration must be completed in full. 
  • Include deed documentation (copies must accompany this form), and can be researched through the local County Recorder’s Office. Please obtain a complete copy of each deed. Documentation must show unbroken chain of ownership, from person A to B, B to C, etc. 
  • Include an 8.5” X 11” map from the County Auditor’s Office showing farm boundaries, homestead, existing roads and buildings, cropland, pasture, woodlots, and other features such as ponds or wetlands. 
  • Include at least one current photo of the farm. Additional photographs of buildings and structures are welcomed and encouraged. 
  • No materials or photos will be returned to you. All submissions become property of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. By submitting this registration, you hereby consent to the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s use of any material submitted for promotional and/or educational purposes. 
  • Owner(s) or family member(s) must ensure validity of the registration by completing Section on 6. 
  • Return the registration form with documentation to: Ohio Department of Agriculture, Historic Family Farms, 8995 E. Main Street, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068-3399.

Ownership Requirements 

  • The same family must have ownership (title of the land or proof of land contract) for a minimum of 100 consecutive years. Leasing or sharecropping does not qualify as ownership. Note: Land in the process of being sold or transferred to a non-relative is not eligible.
  • Line of ownership from the first family member owning the land may be through wives, husbands, children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, or cousins. Legally adopted family members are recognized equally with blood relatives. 
  • The owner or a family member must sign the registration application.
  • For land in a trust or in the name of a corpora􀆟 on: proof must be submitted that the land remains in the family by submitting a copy of the articles of incorporation showing that only family members are members of the corporation or a copy of the trust document showing that only family members are beneficiaries of the trust.
  • After receiving a Historic Family Farm designation: in order to keep the designation, the family must continue ownership of the farm and the farm must continue to be engaged in agricultural activities.

Deed Research Tips

Complete copies of deeds showing the transfers between generations of the family are required with each Historic Family Farms registration. Ohio Department of Agriculture staff will check the deeds to ensure consistency of the property description, and also look for an unbroken chain of title within your family.   

Although deed research may seem challenging, this project can provide a fascinating personal history lesson for your family.  

Here are some tips to get you started in your research:

1) Contact the county recorder’s office to tell them you want to research your farm’s deed history. Ask if there is a
day of the week and time of day that might be better suited for your work.

2) Take a copy of your current deed with you, if possible. Not only will you have the land description in front of
you, but many recent deeds reference the prior deed close to the bottom of the document. This information gives
you a specific instrument, book and page number to find the prior deed document.

3) Familiarize yourself with two terms used in deeds:
Grantee, the person purchasing the property; and
Grantor, the person selling the property.

4) In the recorder’s office:  

  • Locate the Index Books (recorder’s staff can point these out to you). There are typically listings for both grantor and grantee.  
  • Ask the recorder’s staff how you can get deed copies made (you may need to make your own copies, or some offices require you to fill out a slip of paper with the deed book and volume information which you give to the recorder’s staff for completion).  
  • Some counties offer geographic indexing, which can help you focus on a specific area of the county (look at the deed description of your farm to determine the region – the section, township and range).  
  • If geographic indexing isn’t available, all regions of the county are listed together alphabetically (by last name) by year of transfer and by grantee or grantor status. 

5) If there is a prior deed reference on the current deed, locate that book volume and page to find the prior deed. Is there another prior deed reference at the bottom of this deed?

6) If there isn’t a prior deed reference:  Look at the grantor’s name on the last deed you located, then search for this same name under the grantee’s index book for the year you believe the farm was sold to him/her. You may need to go through several index books to locate the name.

7) Once you find the grantee’s name, look at the land information (section, township, range, acreage) beside the name to see if this might be the same property. If it is a likely match, pull the deed book volume referenced on the line, and compare the land description. If it matches, you will want a copy made of this deed.

8) Continue going backward in time, checking for the last grantor name in the grantee index books.

9) Stop when you find the deed where the farm is first purchased by one of your family members. Take note of the
date on the deed; this is the year your farm was established

10) Make sure you get all pages of each deed copied, including the signature page. 

Program History

Just like the farming industry, the Ohio’s Historic Family Farms program has evolved over time. Starting out in 1993 as the competitive "Outstanding Century Farm Awards" program, it honored a total of eight farms each year.

In 2003, the program title changed to “Ohio Century Farms”, and all qualified farms received the century farm designation.

During Ohio’s bicentennial celebration in 2003, 13 farms were recognized for 200 years of same-family ownership. Ten years later, in 2013, the Ohio Department of Agriculture created the “Ohio Bicentennial Farm” designation to officially recognize farms reaching this anniversary.

The "Ohio Sesquicentennial Farm" designation was added in 2016 for farms in the same family for at least 150 years. To encompass all three designations – century, sesquicentennial and bicentennial – the program’s title was changed to "Ohio’s Historic Family Farms.

List of Ohio's Historic Family Farms

A full, searchable listing of Ohio's nearly 1500 registered Historic Family Farms is available here.