• Image of bluebells in the spring

    Cuyahoga Valley

    National Park Ohio

There are park alerts in effect.
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  • Valley Bridle Trail Partial Closure

    A section of the Valley Bridle Trail is closed across from the Brandywine Golf Course. There is no estimate of when this section will be open. Please observe all trail closures. More »

  • Plateau Trail Partial Closure

    The outer loop of the Plateau Trail is closed at the Valley Picnic Area junction for bridge repair. The bridge is now unsafe for pedestrian traffice due to accelerated erosion around the base. More »

  • Bald Eagle Closure in Effect Until July 31, 2014

    Returning bald eagles are actively tending to last year's nest within the Pinery Narrows area in CVNP. To protect the eagles from human disturbance, the area surrounding the nest tree will be closed until July 31, 2014. More »

  • Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) Bridge Construction Closures

    Rockside and Canal Visitor Center boarding sites will be closed through Apr 27. From Jan 18 - Mar 16, CVSR will operate between Akron Northside and Brecksville stations. From Mar 22 - Apr, CVSR will operate between Akron Northside and Peninsula. More »

  • Do Not Feed the Waterfowl and Birds!

    Many people enjoy feeding waterfowl and birds, but the effects of this seemingly generous act can be harmful. Regular feeding can cause: unatural behavior, pollution, overcrowding, delayed migration, and poor nutrition and disease.

  • Closure on Fishing Will Remain in Effect for Virginia Kendall Lake

    Due to the government shutdown, we were unable to survey the fish community in VK Lake as scheduled. Our survey partners (ODNR) will not be able to get into the lake until early spring of 2014. Therefore, the closure on fishing will remain in effect. More »

Brown-Bender Farm

Brown-Bender barn with farmhouse in background.
Bender barn with farmhouse in background.
NPS/Ted Toth
 

The Brown-Bender Farm, once one of the most productive local farms, still commands a panoramic view of the Cuyahoga Valley. Up a steep winding drive, Jim Brown's large 1840s farmhouse sits beside a spectacular barn. Today, you can see the barn roof peeking above dense trees and overgrowth along Akron Peninsula Road, just south of Ira Road.

In 1907, dairy farmer Andrew J. Bender purchased the property as an investment in additional land to support his wife and twelve children. Andrew's son Earva, who lived there his entire life, managed the farm after his father's death in 1930. Weighing the costs and benefits of his father's dairy business, Earva chose another direction.

 
Brown-Bender barn rehabilitation.

Brown-Bender barn rehabilitation.

NPS/Ted Toth

Through his perseverance and innovative spirit, Earva Bender developed a thriving vegetable farm that rivaled the neighboring Szalay Farm. Without children of their own to share the labor, Earva and his wife hired families to live and work on their property. As each new season arrived, Earva and his hired workers planted, harvested, and sold crops at a roadside stand and a farmers' market. Always thinking of new ways to improve his operation, Earva built a greenhouse that allowed him to bring ripe tomatoes to the farmers' markets earlier in the season than his competitors. Earva planted 100 acres of sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelons, and pumpkins on bottomland beside the Cuyahoga River. By the 1940s, the Benders' vegetable stand on Akron Peninsula Road had become a local landmark.

Click to read more about the history of Brown-Bender Farm.

Work on the farm never ceased, and every day brought new successes or failures to overcome. Listen below as Earva Bender's former workers share their experiences on the farm.

 
Oral history audio.

In Their Own Words
Click to hear stories about Cuyahoga Valley life.

Click here to read the text file.
Spring and Summer Activities (1 minute 1 second)
Tomato Fights (29 seconds)
Robert Grether describes his experiences working on the Bender Farm during the 1940s.

Click here to read the text file.
Planting Tomatoes for Earva Bender (1 minute 17 seconds)
Selling Vegetables from a Hay Wagon (27 seconds)
Sweet Corn Competition (52 seconds)
Painting the Bender Barn (1 minute 38 seconds)
David Darst and his daughter Lee, describe daily life on Earva Bender's farm. David, his wife Marty, and their children lived and worked there for 30 years, from the 1950s through the 1970s.




Did You Know?

Drawing of a mule driver on the Ohio & Erie Canal.

A young James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States, worked briefly as a mule boy on the Ohio & Erie Canal, an important cultural resource within Cuyahoga Valley National Park.