It’s an ol’ fashioned barn raising

Published 5:10 am Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lydia Grimes | The Brewton Standard Jerry and Theresa Bell stand in front of barn next to their Alabama Century and Heritage Farm plaque presented to them by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

Lydia Grimes | The Brewton Standard
Jerry and Theresa Bell stand in front of barn next to their Alabama Century and Heritage Farm plaque presented to them by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

Brewton couple opens event venue

Most people who live on farms are busy harvesting the crops they have so carefully watched since last spring. Corn fields are a familiar sight around this area, cotton is white in the fields and peanuts have been gathered in the pasture.

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Years ago, much of the population of Escambia County citizens grew up on farms, but times are changing and there are fewer farms than there once were.

Farmers have learned to “roll with the punches,” and embrace the changing times.

One of these farm families is the Bell family who lives off Alabama Highway 113 in the Pineview community at East Pineview Circle. The barn is easily recognized from the highway or they can be reached at

“In 2013, we applied for and received the designation of Alabama Century and Heritage Farm,” said Jerry Bell. “We have the plaque that was given to us by the Department of Agriculture and Industries and it is on the born.

“It means that the farm has been in continuous use for a long time by the same family and been used as a farm,” he said. “We want the farm to be passed along to our children and grandchildren to enjoy and thus Legacy Acres was formed.”

Jerry and his wife, Theresa, both grew up in rural Alabama, and Theresa grew up on this farm. She works in Brewton and both of her children have made the decision to become engineers.

“We realized that our family wasn’t going to take up the trade of farming when both children  went off to become engineers,” Theresa said. “With that in mind, we wanted to leave a lasting legacy for them to come back and visit.

“Even though they don’t live here, the grandchildren like to come to the farm and enjoy farm activities,” Theresa added. “The world is changing so fast that we wanted to do something to open the world of the farm to children who might not have the opportunity to know what goes on at a working farm.”

Jerry and Theresa started an agritourism venture this year which is kicking off on Sat., Oct. 22. They will continue each Saturday through the month of November.

“We have a hoop house (greenhouse), and have planted tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries to sell this winter,” Theresa said. “There was a ‘pole or log’ house that had seen better times so it was torn down and replaced with a barn which will house restrooms and a caterer’s kitchen so the building can be used as a venue for weddings, reunions, corporate meetings and other events.”

At the grand opening on Oct. 22, there will be an old fashioned square dance with a live caller, a corn maze in which to wander, a corn bin for the kids, as well as other games to keep children entertained. There will be a food truck, and a place for snacks and soft drinks.

In the following weeks, the farm will have different attractions each week, including grinding corn meal and the making of old fashioned sugar cane syrup. They have a very healthy looking field of sugar cane. If you have never had a chew of sugar cane, you have missed a treat.

“We plan for the future, but we have a lot of respect for the past,” said Jerry Bell. “In 1876 Coleman Strength bought 320 acres of land from Henry Morningstar and used the virgin longleaf pine trees to build a home for his wife, Nancy Jernigan, and a family of five children. He also floated timbers down the creeks and rivers to Pensacola where they were sold and paid for with silver dollars.

Coleman Strength’s son, Frank, inherited 80 acres from his father in 1910. He and his wife, Mary Moye, built a family home in 191l and raised seven children. It still stands on the property next to the cane field. One of their sons, Byron Strength, is the father of Theresa Bell, and he still lives on the old farm.

Any child who grows up on a farm has a special connection with his/her home.

“By providing a real farm experience, we hope to encourage people to start their own farms, get outside and learn more about their environment,” said Theresa.