Centennial Farm group meets in Big Rapids

The rainy weather didn’t dampen the spirits of more than 100 people attending the annual meeting of the Centennial Farms Association when the organization met on Tuesday, April 26, at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Big Rapids.

Introductions and various updates were given by Martha Cobb-Coates, president of the Centennial Farms Association. She told the group her father, Andrew Cobb, “started this association in 1957,” and her mother, Jean, “was also on the board for 50 years.”

Larry J. Wagenaar, Executive Director of the Historical Society of Michigan addressed the group, encouraging members to keep updated on what is going on with that organization as well. He noted that there has been a significant increase in the numbers of certified farms compared to when the state was running it.

He said callers now “usually get a live person on the phone when they call,” and if not, there will be someone who will call back that same day or the next. He said the turn around time has been improved. Complete applications turned in for certification can be approved now within a four to eight week time frame.

He also noted that Centennial Farms signs are now mailed directly to the farmer. He noted that anyone needing to replace a sign still would have to meet certification criteria in order to do so.

He predicted that in the not to distant future the “trickle of sesquicentennial farms will be coming in.” He also suggested that anyone with feature ideas for the magazine published by the Historical Society of Michigan, either contact his office for in-house work to be done, or to submit articles to that location for consideration.

Returning this year with further information about restoration carpentry was Ryan Oldenburg, who had as his topic the “genealogy of house building.” He discussed his techniques for researching what would be time-sensitive information for various restoration projects. He also explained some of the techniques he uses in adding porches and other restoration techniques for homes located in the Sparta area and elsewhere.

Following lunch, two buses were waiting to take those wishing to take a tour throughout Osceola County to see the ever-increasing number of “wooden quilt blocks popping up along the Osceola County Quilt Trail.

Wava Woods of Hersey who has written two books about the Centennial Farms, both certified and non, in Osceola County and surrounding counties, and teamed up with Elsie Vredenburg of the Marion area to make the bus tour possible.

Vredenburg attended a quilting conference in another state a couple years back, learned about the quilt trail projects, and came back home to Michigan to see if the spark could be ignited in this state as well. Two years later it has, and the 50th such wooden quilt block was attached little more than a week ago to the front of the Tustin Community Center/Library. There are still orders for many more.

It was explained that many families have a special quilt block in mind that perhaps served as a pattern a grandma or great-grandma once used. Still others design their own, and Elsie is well-versed in designing special ones. Such was the case with the “Pine River Quilt Block” at Tustin.

Some of the wooden quilt blocks are painted by Elsie or a member of her team, while some families choose to help paint their own in the little shop found along Marion’s main street.

Many of the barns and buildings sporting the wooden quilt blocks are Centennial Farms themselves.

Woods expressed appreciation to Consumers Energy and Michigan Electric Cooperative Association for providing the buses for the “Quilt Trail journey,” and also thanked the Centennial Farm Association for providing the tote bags used “to pack the goodies we have found along our way, in and from Osceola County’s unique places.”