Western Pennsylvania century farms recognized

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Paul and Linda Stahlman Farm of Fairmount City
The Paul and Linda Stahlman Farm of Fairmount City, Clarion County, was recognized as a century farm at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. (Submitted photo)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s rich agricultural heritage and commitment to conservation took the spotlight today at 106th Pennsylvania Farm Show as Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding recognized nine Pennsylvania families for their contributions to the commonwealth’s agriculture industry. 

Redding recognized the farms, which have been in operation for a combined total of more than 1,350 years, through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Century and Bicentennial Farm Program. The program helps promote the strength and durability of Pennsylvania’s farm families and recognizes families who have been farming the same land for 100 years and 200 years. 

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 more than 2,280 Century and Bicentennial Farms. The program was established to help publicize the strengths and durability of our farm families. 

Farms

Two western Pennsylvania farms were recognized. The Paul and Linda Stahlman Farm was recognized as a century farm. The Paul and Linda Stahlman Farm of Fairmount City, Clarion County, was originally purchased by Paul’s third great uncle, Samuel Stahlman on May 20, 1845. 

Samuel Stahlman was originally from Schuylkill County. His widowed mother moved Samuel and his brothers to Clarion County around 1836. Samuel Stahlman and his wife had 11 children. Paul and his wife Linda took over ownership of the farm on Dec. 23, 1985. 

Today the Stahlman’s grow corn, soybeans, oats and hay. They also have chickens, sheep and beef cattle on the farm. Clarion County is home to 34 century farms. 

The McChesney Family Farm is also a century farm. The McChesney family farm of Blairsville, Westmoreland County, was originally purchased by Clint McChesney’s great, great, great grandfather Andrew McChesney. The original tract consisted of 89.89 acres. 

Over the years, the farm has been both a dairy and a beef operation. The family also raised hogs, sheep, goats, draft horses, poultry and bees. The family has used canine helpers to herd their cattle over the years. Border collies, airedales and Welsh terriers have been their favorite companion animal work dogs to use. 

Currently, they are using mixed breeds and an English shepherd to herd the cattle. The family did not use a tractor on the farm until at least 1942. That is the earliest date that Leonard McChesney, Clint’s father, can remember adding a tractor to the draft team when working in the fields. An original two-room stone house still stands on the property. 

Clint’s parents, Leonard and Esther bought the farm with Clint and his wife Amy on May 14, 2008. Today the farm consists of 109.58 acres that is pastureland and a beef operation. Westmoreland County is home to 33 century farms and 10 bicentennial farms. 

McChesney Family Farm
The McChesney Family Farm, of Blairsville, Westmoreland County, was recognized as a century farm at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. (Submitted photo)

Program

To be eligible for the Century Farm Program, a farm must be owned by the same family for at least 100 consecutive years. A family member must live on the farm on a permanent basis, and the farm must include at least 10 acres of the original holding or gross more than $1,000 annually from the sale of farm products. 

The Bicentennial Farm Program follows the same guidelines but requires 200 consecutive years of ownership. Farm history is filed in the archives of the Pennsylvania State Historical and Museum Commission. For more information about farmland preservation, visit agriculture.pa.gov.

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