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Here is an aerial view of the Good-Woodruff farm from Champaign County early in the 20th century.

A Century Farm perspective better than reality television

I look forward to them every year — the stories from visits to Ohio Century Farms.

In my estimation, taking a couple of hours to step back in time to the earliest days of Ohio agriculture is time vastly better spent compared to watching any reality television, soap opera or televised sporting event that can be conjured up. And, the stories are real — not a statement that applies to reality television.

Seriously, there could be some really good “based upon actual events” movies made from Century Farm stories that were instrumental in shaping the state’s top economic driver today. The stories of these seldom-noticed gems of Ohio history are sitting right under our noses and are vastly more entertaining, informative and incredible than the most dynamic sporting matchup or even a hotly debated interview with a man who decided he wanted to be a lady.

The Ohio Century Farm program started in 1993 as a joint effort between the Ohio History Connection, Ohio’s Country Journal and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. As you read the stories, take a few moments to put into perspective what these people actually did to make a new life on an Ohio farm. It is truly amazing to think about leaving everything you have known behind to hop on a ship and carve out a life for yourself and your descendants amid the some harshest conditions imaginable. They left what they knew for a chance of success in the unknown. Put yourself in their well-traveled shoes. Would you do it? Could you do it?

My guess is that most people in our modern society would have a pretty tough time matching the determination, grit and work ethic of the founders of these farms who — let’s face it — had to be half crazy to do what they did. What drove them to seek out such hardship and sacrifice? What gave them the strength to carry on?

Without fail, every Century Farm has a story that offers a perspective that seems to be increasingly rare in today’s society. The Blausey family farm started out in the middle of a terrible swamp that few others were determined enough to inhabit. The Good-Woodruff Farm has its roots in an incredible love story that spanned an ocean and defied the conventions of the day.

These stories are fascinating to hear in person and I hope their value and the perspective they offer comes through the pages of this publication. Hopefully you get the chance to let these stories take you to a time and place that offers stark contrasts to our modern lives.

Think about how our forefathers lived. Even once they settled on the farms after daunting journeys to get there, there was drama in simply surviving from one day to the next through most of their lives. Food didn’t come from a take out window or a store — it came from the garden and the barn and the cellar. They didn’t need to seek entertainment via the remote control or a trip to the movie theater. They lived real life movies against the elements every day. They faced head on the struggles of life and death, love and loss, heat and cold, and rain and shine that we have been working hard to insulate ourselves from ever since. They toiled endlessly because their very survival depended upon it.

After hearing the arduous tales of Century Farms, it never fails to make me appreciate all that we have today a little bit more. We are incredibly fortunate that our ancestors worked so hard to create better lives for their children. Now we get to enjoy the fruits of their labor and hopefully we can heed the lessons they teach us that are more valuable than anything that can be learned on reality TV.

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