Dave Herr of Highland Township received an early Christmas gift last year when, in November, he was notified by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture that his family's farm, Herrwood Farm, has been named a Pennsylvania State Century Farm. Such delineation ensures that the 92.9-acre farm will remain as open space for farming and agriculture use.Herr made application to the state for Century Farm status in October of last year. He is a 10th generation descendant of Rev. Hans Herr, who in 1710, according to his letter of application, brought all the Mennonite people to Western Chester County (now Lancaster County) from Switzerland after seeing a flyer from William Penn advertising land to be settled.
Herr's father, Abraham Herr, purchased Herrwood Farm at 69 Highland Road from the Parke family of Parkesburg in 1903. They, too, had farmed the property, which still features the original house, barn and outbuildings. Herr said his father added on four rooms in 1922 and installed electricity. The farm still grosses over $1,000 annually from farm products and its main business has been crops, pigs, steers, chickens and eggs.
Herr said that he has had a very successful life farming for 46 years, though he supplemented his income by also working for the United States Post Office.
He has also been very active in the community, serving on the Highland Township Planning Commission for the past 20 years and as a member of the Parkesburg Lions Club for 35 years (25 with perfect attendance at their meetings). In agriculture related endeavors, he was director of the Chester and Delaware County Farm Bureau for many years, during which he lobbied government officials in Washington and Harrisburg on behalf of farmers and landowners.
As a member of the Highland Township Planning Commission, he was instrumental in securing thirty farms - 3,000 acres - for farmland preservation.
According to the Pennsylvania Century Farm Application, the Century Farms Program emphasizes pride in the contributions of these farms as a "symbol to remind us of where we want to go in the future." Century Farm owners receive state-issued certificates.
Criteria for Century Farm is that the farm must be owned by the same family for 100 or more consecutive years; a family member must currently live on the farm on a permanent basis; and the farm must consist of at least 10 acres of the original holding or gross over $1,000 annually from the sale of farm products.
In his November 1st letter to Herr naming Herrwood Farm as a state Century Farm, Dennis Wolff of the Department of Agriculture expanded on the goals of the Century Farm Program.
"It was established to help publicize the strengths and durability of our farm families," he said. "Our goal is to stress the importance of agriculture and specifically the family farm, to all citizens of the Commonwealth."
The letter further stated that the Department of Agriculture and Gov. Ed Rendell were firmly committed to the preservation of "our family farms and farmland resources."
Herr's parents lived on the farm until they passed away, and Dave Herr has raised a family on the farm including three daughters, Anne, Susan and Ellen.
Dave Herr, left, of Highland Township receives his Century Farm plaque from Sen. Dominic Pileggi for his family's farm, Herrwood Farm.