Three Montana farms recently were added to the state’s Centennial Farm and Ranch program, including the Bunyak Farm in Sunburst. Also added this year were the Benson Upland Farm near Outlook, and the Danielson Farm near Homestead. These farms never left family ownership, still retain some or all of the original acreage, and are in production by the owner or a lessee. The Bunyaks, Bensons, and Danielsons all received a signed certificate from Gov. Steve Bullock and a roadside sign to honor their family’s remarkable achievements.
After homesteading in Canada, Steven Bunyak and his parents arrived in Sweet Grass, Mont., to homestead in 1910. Steven claimed a 320-acre homestead near Sunburst in 1912 and began the arduous process of plowing, planting, building a home, and a reservoir to help water this semi-arid agricultural property. Steven left the farm in 1918, fighting to free France and Belgium from German occupation during World War I. After the war, he married Katherine Losing in 1919 and received official title to the land in 1920. The couple weathered incredibly hard times throughout the 1920s but were able to increase their acreage and add new buildings and machinery in the late 1920s and 1930s. Steven and Katherine passed the farm to their son Stanley and his wife Gladys in 1952. Stanley (now 90 years old) and Gladys still live on the farm and lease the land to a local farmer.
Since 2009, the MHS Centennial Farm and Ranch program has recognized Montana’s agricultural traditions by celebrating the perseverance and stewardship of Montana families on their farms and ranches. Honoring families who have owned their land for 100 years or more, helps preserve Montana’s strong agricultural roots and the stories and traditions that define rural communities.
The Montana Historical Society is accepting applications for the Centennial Farm and Ranch program. New inductees will receive a framed certificate signed by the governor, recognition at the “Ag Day” ceremony in the State Capitol during the 2021 legislative session, the history of their ranch or farm published online and in our periodic Centennial Farm and Ranch yearbook, and a durable roadside sign. These 24-by-36-inch UV-coated metal signs are a new addition to the program this year, thanks to support from the Montana Department of Agriculture and the Donnelley Family Foundation.
Requirements for induction include:
•Must be a working farm or ranch with a minimum of 160 acres or, if fewer than 160 acres, must have gross yearly income of at least $1,000.
•One current owner must be a Montana resident.
•Proof of the founding date and continuous ownership by members of the same family beginning with the founder and concluding with the present owner, spanning minimally 100 years. Line of ownership may be through spouses, children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, or adopted children. For homesteaded properties, ownership begins with claim filing date (not patent date).
Applications for this year’s cycle will be accepted until Dec. 1, 2020. To download all requirements and the application, visit http://bit.ly/MTCFRapp.