Greensward Farm – Middle TN
In September 1917, Milton and Mary Blackwell began raising Hereford cows, along with horses, prized mules, hay, corn, wheat, and oats on 230 acres of rolling farmland in Rutherford County. Over 100 hundred years later, Milton and Mary’s granddaughter, Marianne, continues the family’s tradition as a passionate steward of the land, better known as Greensward Farm.
“Some of my friends have accused me of having dirt in my veins, as opposed to blood,” said Marianne. “Land and conservation are very important. At one point I had thought about putting a house on the farm and I personally decided to back off that because I couldn’t envision an open pasture being anything but just that.”
For Marianne, the land is more than soil and seeds, and she cares deeply for the animals that share the farm. Through good times and bad, she says, the land has provided for her family.
“The land is where my family has called home for over 100 years. It’s not only where we lived, but where we made a living,” she said. “The farm put me through college. It provided for all of our needs through these years. It’s very symbiotic: it takes care of us and we try to take care of it.”
Through her hard work and conservation vision, Marianne is returning the favor. In 2017, just weeks after Greensward Farm received its official designation as a Tennessee Century Farm, Marianne completed a conservation easement with The Land Trust for Tennessee that will ensure the farmland will always remain undeveloped, open pasture.
Now, she can continue to farm and enjoy her family’s land with peace of mind that it will be conserved for future owners, as well.
“Once land is developed or built on it can never be reclaimed…and there’s only a finite amount,” she said, noting the farms she has seen divided or developed over the years. “I think our previous relatives would be overjoyed that we’re trying to be proactive and take steps to do the right thing.”