More Good Things About Ohio: A National Park with Farms

I don’t usually make this a habit, but I went back to Cleveland last week (Feb. 12), this time to give a talk in the Cuyahoga National Park. What seduced me into making a second winter trip was that this park has a farmers market, and that alone was pretty compelling. But it got better http://www.raybani.com/ when I found out that this urban park also has a number of farms in it, (twelve, to date, and plans to add more), and a national park that includes small farms is definitely something to take a look at, even in winter.

Of course, with everything covered in deep drifts of snow, there wasn’t much to see beyond fields lying fallow. But Beth Knorr, of the Countryside Conservancy, a non-profit that partners with the park to help with such things as negotiating farm leases, kindly drove me around the park and pointed out the old farmhouses, barns and outbuildings that are now being used by farmers. Beth explained that it probably worked out better for the park to have farmers use the land and take care of the properties, then have that be the responsibility of the park, and that is what has happened.

Given that the Cuyahoga National Park is pretty much an urban park, one that is close to Cleveland, maintaining a landscape that includes the human imprint expressed through small, sustainable farms (and the Erie Canal) says a lot about the importance of farming itself and their place in the Ray Ban outlet landscape. The farms are real. The farmers produce all kinds of food and sell it in a number of places, including the park’s farmers’ market.

Among the farming endeavors are Sarah’s Vineyard, which produces wine, Spring Hill Farm & Market featuring vegetables, flowers, eggs, and chickens, and Goatfeather’s Point Farm, a producer of livestock, including goats for ethnic markets and heritage turkeys. There is a u-pick berry farm, farms that feature herbs, lamb, different fruits, and more diversified farms that also feature vegetables. The farmhouses, which were already in the park, have been renovated for these young farmers and their families to use, (for which they pay rent), and there are still more farms available to be leased. All in all, I think this is a tremendously exciting approach to both urban parklands and farming, one that other places might consider.

In addition to seeing the park, I had another opportunity to experience some high quality, very good food, this time at a little restaurant in Hudson called Downtown 140. At the Inn at Brandywine Falls, where I stayed, the morning’s breakfast included omelets made from eggs from the owner’s chickens ray ban da sole outlet and homemade bread and jam. Beth gave me a parting gift of some exceptional good goat cheeses from Lake Erie Creamery, which I fiercely defended when going through security, as well as some crumbly, short heart-shaed lavender shortbread cookies from a Hudson bakery, perfect for Valentines Day.IMG_0522

What is it with Ohio? It seemed sort of stodgy and conservative when I was researching Local Flavors, but ten years later it looks like a down-to-earth food mecca.  I can’t wait to go back in August and see everything in the sunshine and shop at the farmers’ market in the park.

5 comments to More Good Things About Ohio: A National Park with Farms

  • Beth Rush

    Greetings Deborah –

    I wanted to let you know how very much I (and WE) enjoyed your visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Your lecture was very compelling and certainly complemented perfectly the mission of the Countryside Conservancy, a phenomenal component of our national park which sustains and facilitates our mission as a national park in a non-traditional way.

    Your blog represents us so well. Although as a park ranger I interpret the various aspects of a landscape, near and dear to my heart are specifically the human imprints which bring our park (and any park) to life. From the Ohio and Erie Canal and the beloved Towpath trail to the Countryside Conservancy, we are so fortunate to give voice to both our rich past and our dynamic and ever-changing present.

    I was so lucky and honored to introduce you, and look forward to communicating with you in the future. I will email you as soon as I’ve purchased that cookbook!

    Fondly,

    “Ranger” Beth Rush, CVNP

    • Greetings Ranger Beth!

      I definitely hope to come back during the summer and see the park in all its glory – farmers market, farms
      plus so much more, including the Erie Canal, which wasn’t quite visible through the snow this time.
      Many thanks to for an inspiring visit!

  • Lindsey

    What a great idea-I wonder if there are other parks that have taken over old farms and still have this possibility-seems like a win-win for us all.

  • Lindsey —What about the GGNRA in West Marin? Does that qualify? Even better, the farms weren’t closed when the GGNRA started, as they were in the Cuyahoga park.

  • Amy

    Deborah–

    I grew up in Ohio. My ancestors on one side of the family settled Zoar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoar,_Ohio) in the 1800s, where last I checked they still had the an historic kitchen garden my grandparents used to take me to visit. When I think of Ohio food, I think of home canned locally grown peaches and homemade apple sauce and rhubarb pie. Stodgy they may be, but with garden-fresh ingredients, it’s hard to deny those foods are still delicious. 🙂 It’s good to know that people are working to keep the small farm and local agriculture roots of my state alive. I hadn’t heard about the sustainable farms in the park. I may have to try to make my way up there to see them next time I am in Ohio. Thanks for sharing!

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