There was a time when farm life was a typical way a life for many Denton County residents, but those days are long over.
As the years have passed, fewer and fewer area residents have retained their ties to the land. That’s why we were excited to learn that the owners of one area family farm will be honored in Austin on Nov. 2 during the 38th annual Family Land Heritage Ceremony.
The farm — located just south of Denton and east of Argyle — where Tommy Madewell has lived his entire life — isn’t as large as it once was, but it’s still in the family and with the help of his wife, Patricia, Madewell completed the application process required by the state to trace the farm’s history.
The Family Land Heritage Ceremony honors families who have continuously operated a family-owned farm for at least 100 years. Madewell’s farm has been in operation since 1908.
To receive the honor, eligible farms and ranches must still be owned and operated by the descendants of the founder, either through blood, marriage or adoption, and at least 10 acres of the land must have been in continuous agricultural production for the past 100 years or more.
To date, the state has recognized more than 4,700 properties in 237 counties across Texas.
Every year, the department conducts a ceremony at the Texas Capitol to celebrate and commemorate the families that have passed down their legacy from generation to generation. Twenty-two farms in Denton County, including Madewell’s farm, have been honored by the state in the past 40 years.
Madewell said the recognition is an honor, not just for him but also for his late father and the rest of his family.
Madewell told us he could never give up the land, and he said he would like for his children to keep the farm in the family after he’s gone.
In a statement, Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples said family farms and ranches are the backbone of Texas agriculture. Currently, more than 98 percent of all farms and ranches in Texas are family owned, he said.
Life in agriculture has never been easy — those who own family farms face droughts, fires, flood and pests, but they have persevered. Despite the challenges, Staples said, the land these farmers and ranchers have nurtured has turned the Texas agriculture industry into a powerhouse of productivity.
Recognizing the enduring commitment to Texas agriculture is what makes the Family Land Heritage program so special, Staples stated.
Members of the Madewell family have long been a part of that commitment, and we congratulate them on this notable recognition.
We also thank them for helping to preserve an important part of Denton County history and the culture and economy of our state.