ROCK SPRINGS, Pa. — Agriculture Secretary George Greig recognized two Pennsylvania farm families for their longstanding contributions to agriculture at Penn State’s Ag Progress Days.
Wayne E. and Robin L. Homan, and family of Pennsylvania Furnace, Centre County, were presented with a Century Farm designation; and Robert E. and Deborah A. Jackson, and family of Apollo, Armstrong County, received a Bicentennial Farm designation.
“Since before this land was known as Penn’s Woods, Pennsylvania farmers have helped feed the world and made history in the process,” Greig said. “By recognizing the families who are carrying on their agriculture tradition into the farm’s next century, we’re highlighting the work of Pennsylvania’s past, which is key to its future.”
The Jackson farm was purchased April 7, 1797, by John Jackson, an Irish immigrant who first lived in Hannahstown, Chester County, before moving to Armstrong County. All 50 of the acres he purchased remain part of the farm today.
While the original home burned in 1880, its foundation and chimney remain. The current home dates to 1900. Gen. Samuel McCartney Jackson often brought to the farm his young grandson, and later actor, Jimmy Stewart. Today, the farm produces mainly corn and hay.
The Homan farm was purchased March 29, 1913. Nearly 293 of the original 295 acres, purchased for $40.47 per acre, are still owned and farmed by the family. The farm primarily produces grain and hay, and was preserved in 1996.
The house was built in 1858 as a wedding present for Jane Lyons and Col. Bucher Ayers. Ayers graduated from Dickinson College, worked for Secretary of State Daniel Webster, and became superintendent of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad.
Lyons was the daughter of John Lyons, owner of the nearby Pennsylvania Furnace iron works, who financed construction of the house. The farm’s outbuildings predate the 1913 purchase.
Since the Century Farm program’s inception in 1977 and the creation of the Bicentennial Farm program in 2004, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has recognized 1,942 Century and 166 Bicentennial Farms.