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HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Berks County family was thrust into the spotlight at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg on Friday.

The Kerschners were among five families recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for their generations of commitment to the state's agriculture industry.

Together, the families represent more than 650 years of farming in Pennsylvania.

"I cannot think of a better time to recognize our rich agricultural heritage than here at the 104th Pennsylvania Farm Show," said Russell Redding, the state's agriculture secretary. "These farms embody the tradition of Pennsylvania agriculture. As they continue great stewardship and conservation, they will be able to tell the story of agriculture for centuries to come."

The Kerschners' farm in Albany Township -- now owned by LeRoy Kerschner and his wife, Dorothy -- dates back to 1917, when LeRoy's great-grandparents -- Phaon and Carolina -- bought 154 acres of land, with plans to build a homestead for their son, James, LeRoy's grandfather. The farm was then passed on to LeRoy's father, Ellis, and LeRoy and Dorothy bought it in 1998.

Now, at more than 212 acres in size, it is one of 34 farms in Berks County that are part of the state's Century Farm program. The county has nine farms in the Bicentennial Farm program.

The programs, officials said, aim to promote the strength and durability of Pennsylvania's farm families and recognize families that have been farming the same land for 100 years and 200 years, respectively.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show will continue its 104th run through Saturday. Admission is free, but there is a $15 fee for parking.

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