The Johnson County Historic Poor Farm is a historic site that was established in 1855 to care for and house individuals with diverse life experiences, consistent with the poor farm model that was seen in counties across the U.S. in the 19th century. Some examples of individuals who found themselves at the farm include people with low wealth, elderly folks who did not have relatives to care for them, immigrants, widows, orphans, and people with disabilities. The farm was a working farm that produced agricultural products to be consumed by residents or sold to customers. The county operated the JCHPF under the poor farm model until 1988. In the years after, the land was farmed privately and by nonprofits.
In 2016, the Board of Supervisors set out to revitalize this land and make it available to the public. What came next was an extensive planning process to ensure that the future development of the farm aligned its history with the needs and desires of our current community. The concept of The New Century Farm was adopted as the vision for the farm. This concept prioritizes the preservation of historic farm structures, land access and education for beginning farmers, conservation, recreation, and education.
The Historic Poor Farm is in its 6th year of Master Plan implementation as of 2023. Historic building construction is finished, the farm has become an established part of the local food landscape, and plans for additional elements such as a Commercial Kitchen, Healing Trail, farmer education center, and events schedule are underway. Although the farm is not 100% open to the public, Johnson County is excited to offer the farm as a community space where folks can learn, connect, and heal in the near future.