Centennial farm group celebrates heritage

Organization looks to add new members 

OSCEOLA COUNTY — The Osceola County and Surrounding Area Centennial Farm group held their 12th Annual Fall Fest on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, at the Evart Free Methodist Church.

The group is made up of families from the area that have farms owned by the same family consecutively for 100 or more years.

Members of the organization represent farms in Lake, Osceola, and Mecosta County.

The group meets one to two times a year to share the fellowship and stories of these farms, said Jalayne Markey, secretary and treasurer of the Osceola County and Surrounding Area Centennial Farm Group.

“This year’s theme was to have members bring either a “Repurposed” item from the farm and/or a story about farming with horses and original tractors,” Markey said. “Members have a love and a great deal of pride for the heritage connected with these farms.”

During the meeting, the group presented a certificate to Ireta Stein, who represented the Preston Family, which became a newly certified Centennial Farm.

The current farm owners are William and Ilene (Preston) Stein, and son, Marvin and Ireta Stein. The farm was purchased in 1909 near Evart, in Chippewa Township.

“Ireta is very proud of the farm and had put together a display of its history and pictures for the Osceola County Fair,” Markey said.

“She brought that display to the meeting and shared it with the group.”

The 499-acre farm is primarily used for dairy farming. Ireta and her husband, Marvin, manage the farm with some additional help from Marvin’s 83-year-old father, and a nephew who also has also become interested in the farm.

They milk approximately 33 cows and have 65 cattle total, Markey said. In the past the success of a dairy farm was based on the “quantity” of production.

Today, it is based more on the “quality” of the milk. The Steins have won annual awards for that quality and have been recognized by Michigan Milk Producers, which has purchased their milk for more than 50 years, Markey said.

The afternoon included a potluck with many family recipes and stories from the past, she said.

Stories at the meeting included, a picture album of farming with horses by the Priestley family.

The Asplund family presented a picture album of the restoration of their Ford 8N tractor, which was purchased by the family in 1949. The Dale Woods family, presented a Christmas tree made out of painted coffee cans and candles, another out of painted feathers, as well as a hand crocheted table runner made out of old, thick, cotton stockings cut in strips. A presentation from the Schmidt family featured a horse collar turned into a decorative mirror by a family friend.

The Marvin Stein family presented old fence posts from the farm that were turned into beautiful vases on a lathe by a family friend and decorated with barbed wire from the farm.

Sid Woods brought five varieties of apples from trees planted on their farm more than 100 years ago. The Jerry Stein family shared a story of building a homemade grain conveyor that was not only used for oats but also sawdust on the farm.

A granddaughter from the Asplund family rescued the base to an old Singer treadle sewing machine from the farm and converted to a bedside table and the Pratt family presented a bowl made by punching holes in greeting cards and crocheting them together.

The organization is looking to add members who have an interest in farm heritage.

“If your family is interested in farms, centennial farms, or preserving the farm heritage of the area they invite you to join their next meeting,” Markey said.

For additional information and the date of the next meeting, contact Woods at (231) 832-2897.