Agriculture has been a way of life in Louisa County since it was first founded, its earliest residents settling in the area as they ventured westward from the Tidewater area.
The land was cultivated by generation of families, who began wresting a living from the earth – growing crops and raising livestock to sustain themselves – often complementing their earnings by laboring in fields of tobacco to raise cash to buy other necessities.
Many farms were eventually sold over the years as farmers no longer found it viable to make a living from the land, but many others have been passed down from generation to generation and have been farmed by the same family for more than 100 years.
For Gerald Harlow, who owns a 38-acre portion of his Crew ancestors’ farm, Crew-Harlow Farm, near the Ferncliff area of Louisa County, he has retained a portion of his heritage while ensuring that it is continually farmed by a member of the family. His cousin, Roy Poindexter, has grown corn, soybeans and hay on the acreage for more than 20 years.
Five years ago it was designated a Century Farm by the Virginia Department of Agriculture, an honor bestowed to farms that have been owned and operated continually by the same family for at least 100 years.
The Crews were Quakers who settled in Louisa County in the 18th century. According to Harlow’s research, John Crew arrived in the colonies from England before the 1660s as a headright of a wealthy Maryland Catholic, who received 50 acres for each person for whom he paid passage.
After Crew’s seven years of indentured servitude and freedom, the Quakers were persecuted by the Catholics and he and his family moved to Isle of Wight County, Virginia and eventually began migrating inland, eventually settling in what is now Louisa County.
The land that Harlow owns on Evergreen Road near Ferncliff was part of a larger estate originally owned by Clark Crew, who left a portion of his farm to his son Steven. Clark had four sons and several daughters, but the property was passed through the sons.
To read the entire story, see the March 20 edition of The Central Virginian.