Monday, September 13, 2010

Long-time family farms look to adapt in tough economic times

So-called "Century Farms," those owned by the same family for over 100 years, have been affected by the recession, and the steps owners are taking to protect them may offer an interesting look at the future of agriculture. "Their descendants can be determined to stay, despite a tough farm economy and the incessant push of development," Noah Adams of National Public Radio reports. "In East Tennessee, it's not hard to find those who inherited land. The owners face differing prospects — and are making key decisions for the next century."

Wendy Niebruegge, whose East Tennessee family farm dates back to 1909 and may soon qualify for century farm status, has turned to organic farming. "Those who are tracking Tennessee's farm economy say this is the future: think green and add value," Adams reports. Other century farms have turned to ag-tourism as a means to bring in more income. Ann Birdwell "left her college theater department job and started dressing up her farm for weddings, reunions, and kids at $6 each, who come by the busload," Adams writes. Now the Birdwells have converted the Still Hollow Farm's granary, which dates to 1860, into an antique store and a gift shop. (Read more)

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