In 'a celebration of tradition,' 11 Century Farms recognized

Friday, November 9, 2007
Martha Leimkuehler, Lynn Leimkuehler (holding sign) and Leigh Ann Graves receive the Century Farm designation for their farm. They were representatives of one of 11 farms to be recognized at the Century Farm Recognition and Celebration held Nov. 8 at the Saline County Courthouse. (Photo by Marcia Gorrell/Democrat-News)

Calling it a "celebration of family, a celebration of tradition and a celebration of legacy," Extension Council Chairman David Perkins opened the annual Recognition and Celebration of Saline County's Century Farms on Thursday, Nov. 8, in the Saline County Courthouse.

Eleven new "Century Farms," farms that have been in the same family for 100 years or more, were added to the county's list, bringing the count to 105, the most of any of the state's 114 counties.

"I understand that Saline County has more Century Farms than any county in the state," said state legislator Joe Aull, one of the evening's speakers.

Maryellen McVicker, a professor at the University of Missouri spoke about the BarnQuilt project which will feature 60 "barn quilts" on barns in Saline, Howard and Cooper counties. (Photo by Marcia Gorrell/Democrat-News)

"You've got a great reputation in the field of agriculture. I think one of the reasons why we have such a great reputation is we have so many family farms, so many farms that have stayed in the same family year after year."

Saline County Commissioner Dick Hassler announced the "Century Farm" owners, who were awarded signs recognizing the designation.

This year's honorees are owned by: Wayne Barr; Lynda Borth and Ina and Ed Dysart; Joe and Connie Clements; William Conner and Judy Taylor; David and Cassandra Copeland; Dale Sr. and Pamela Dierker; Tyrus Frerking; Martha Leimkuehler; Charles Phillips; Gertrude Steinkuehler and Charles and Lois Weiher.

The keynote speaker of the evening was Maryellen McVicker, a history, government and art teacher at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Presiding Commissioner Becky Plattner introduced the speaker, stating that her family helped organize the MU campus in the 1820's. When her two children graduated from the University of Missouri, they became the 7th generation of her family to graduate from the University, said Plattner.

Showing a picture of the farm homes in her family, McVicker told the audience and the century farm owners. "It's your heritage. It's where your heart is."

She said that 100 years ago, when those farms were established, the life expectancy was 47 years old and 60 percent of the population lived on farms.

Talking about the changing face of today's farmers, which now only make up 2 percent of the population, she said one of the things being lost are the "old-time" barns.

With that in mind, she and other members of the Boonslick Tourism Council are beginning a four-year project in Saline, Howard and Cooper counties, which will feature "barn quilts" on 20 barns in each county.

The "quilt blocks" are painted on two sheets of plywood and hung on the gable ends of barns that are close to blacktop roads and highways. The project is based on a similar Iowa project that is designed to "get tourists off the busy interstate."

The first "quilt block" was put on a barn in Cooper County, at the Missouri River Valley Steam Engine Show this fall. The next one will be put up east of Marshall on a barn in Saline County.

"It's a wonderful way to preserve and showcase our rural heritage and our love of agriculture to a whole new audience," said McVicker.

There were also several other awards presented throughout the evening, which was opened by music from the Slater High School Chorus, directed by Nancy Thompson.

The Saline County Commission recognized Marshall FFA and Santa Fe High School students for their help in filling sandbags to help farmers during the flood of 2007 in the Missouri River bottoms.

Ron Duvall, extension council officer, presented "Extension Leaders Honor Roll" awards to longtime 4-H leader Pat Werneke and to council member Leigh Ann Graves.

The 2007 Saline County State Fair Farm Family of Stan, Wanda, Blaine, Meridith and Rachel Thornton, was also recognized.

Six organizations were recognized for their partnership with the extension council.

Saline County Extension specialist Tracie Moore recognized Mary Ann Gilpin of the Saline County United Way for contributions to the county's 4-H, while extension specialist Cynthia Crawford recognized Deems Farm Equipment and Russell and Becky Plattner for their help in the Women in Agriculture and Ag Landowner's Conference. Also recognized were the MFA Oil Foundation for their help in Community Development and Community Bank and Wal-Mart for their help in Financial Education.

Following the presentations, USDA service center employees announced the fifth annual Women in Agriculture and Ag Landowner's Conference, to be held March 14, 2008, at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Marshall. The theme will be, "Farm and Family Profitability -- More than Irish Luck." Among the topics will be farm bill and farm policies; software for financial management; USDA loan programs; USA conservation programs and risk management.

Contact Marcia Gorrell at

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