Explore History with the Delaware Century Farm Portraits Project

Portraits showcasing the work of local artist Mark Reeve will be on display for the next two months at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover.

The history of Delaware’s people is written in the soil. For as long as there has been a Delaware, farmers have tilled the land. That history is being explored in Delaware Century Farm Portraits Project at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover for the next two months. From now until June 30, 10 paintings by local artist Mark Reeve showcasing Delaware’s Century Farms will be on display. Century Farms are farms that have been continuously tilled for more than a century. Delaware has a remarkable 129 such Century Farms. Reeve’s paintings feature not just farm scenes, but also pictures of the farm owners. Reeve says that the best part of the project was “getting to know these farm families and how they shaped the history of Delaware … It is as much about the people as it is about the property.”

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Farming was once considered so vital, George Washington once urged farmers to hide the millstones used to grind grain to prevent them from falling into British hands. The oldest of the Century Farms, the Miller Farm in Frederica, has been tilled since 1684, which means it was being farmed nearly half a century before Washington was born. Reeve’s exhibit includes nine Century Farms and the research farm at Delaware State University. Among them is the Miller Farm, the Woodside Creamery Farm owned by the Mitchell Family in Hockessin and the Cooch’s Bridge Farm. For students of history, Cooch’s Bridge was the site of Delaware’s only Revolutionary War skirmish. Some 700 soldiers under the command of George Washington harried the British until being forced to withdraw. The exhibit will be open to the public until June 30. On May 14, the opening reception will feature the auction of an additional two Century Farm paintings, with the benefits going to the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village and Delaware’s Young Farmer Program. Reeve may not be done documenting Delaware’s agricultural history. “There are many more stories to tell,” he says. —Mike Short

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