Cuyahoga Valley National Park To Lease Land For Farming

Farming has a long history at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy photo.

Back in January the Obama administration received a suggestion that some parks be used to showcase "sustainable agriculture." Guess what? The folks at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio are offering acreage for farms "using sustainable methods appropriate for a national park."

The national park, along with the help of the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, is moving into another round of offering long-term leases under the Countryside Initiative program.

The Countryside Initiative invites farmers to live and farm in the park using sustainable methods appropriate for a national park, while promoting farming that will produce high quality specialty products for direct, local, and retail sale. Currently, CVNP has 11 farms in operation under this program including a vineyard and winery, vegetable and egg operations, livestock, and pick-your-own and community-supported vegetable farms. A growing range of venues market farm products, including pick-your-own farms, community-supported agriculture, roadside stands, local farmers markets, and direct sales to individuals and restaurants.

Farming and the valley that the national park encompasses have a long history, accoridng to the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy.

The Cuyahoga Valley’s rural landscape and character have largely disappeared because the primary activity which created and maintained it – farming – has largely disappeared. Yet here and there old farms have survived in the park which could be rehabilitated and revitalized. Remnants of some 85 farms were evaluated at the beginning of the Countryside Initiative, and 20-25 remain possibilities for being rehabilitated and returned to active farming.

The Initiative embraces the activity of farming as the fullest and most meaningful expression of the Valley’s rural heritage and character: Real farmers on real farms in real working landscape. These modern farms were and will remain small in scale, ranging from 10 acres or less to 100 acres or more. They will feature crops and livestock similar to their 19th and 20th century predecessors: fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, poultry, pigs, sheep, goats, and cattle. But current farmers will grow them for 21 st century tastes and markets. And they will blend the best traditional farming practices with the best modern sustainable production methods.

The latest offering seeks "lessees for the Edgar Farm located in Valley View. The farm includes a rehabilitated residence, a smaller, non-rehabilitated residence, outbuildings, and 35 acres of fields. The farm is suitable for several operations including fruit and vegetable production, management-intensive grazing, and integrated crop-livestock enterprises," according to a park release. "The farm is available for long-term lease up to 60 years. The selection of a proposal, managed as a competitive process for the farm, will be based on the proposal’s agricultural and economic soundness, responsiveness to a national park setting, engagement of the public, etc."

To obtain a Request for Proposals publication that fully describes the Countryside Initiative and the process of submitting a farming proposal, contact Stephanie Webb, CVCC, 2179 Everett Road, Peninsula, OH 44264, (330) 657-2542, , or visit www.cvcountryside.org and go to the section on CVNP Farming.

Open houses for the Edgar Farm will be held November 19 and November 23; call (330) 657-2542 for times and locations. Completed proposals are due at park headquarters by 12 noon on January 15, 2010.

Mail or deliver to:
National Park Service Headquarters
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
15610 Vaughn Road
Brecksville, Ohio 44141

Final selection of proposal is expected in early spring 2010 with occupancy to follow by early summer 2010.

The fine print
: CVCC is a non-profit organization created in 1999 to conceptualize and help implement a management program for the picturesque but deteriorating old farms still surviving within the boundaries of CVNP. For more information about CVCC, visit www.cvcountryside.org or call (330) 657-2542. CVNP encompasses 33,000 acres along the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron. Managed by the National Park Service, CVNP combines cultural, historical, recreational, and natural activities in one setting. For more information about the park, visit www.nps.gov/cuva/ or www.dayinthevalley.com/ or call (216) 524-1497 or (800) 445-9667.