The NC Department of Agriculture started the Century Farm Program in 1970 at the N.C. State Fair with a push to find and honor farms that had been in continuous family ownership for 100 years or more. Accomplishing this is no easy task, and it may be even harder today with the amount of development pressure in certain parts of the state.
When the program started, newspaper articles statewide spread the word that there would be a celebration at the State Fair in Raleigh and these farm families would be invited. A luncheon was hosted, starting a tradition of periodically honoring Century Farm families at the State Fair.
That initial effort found more than 800 farms. Today there are roughly 1,600 in the program — an indication that is still going strong.
To qualify for Century Farm status, farm owners must be able to show 100 years of continuous family ownership. That can come from courthouse records, deeds, or through family history. Farms receive a blue and yellow sign suitable for outdoor display, a directory of Century Farm members and a certificate signed by the Governor, Agriculture Commissioner and State Fair manager.