• Photo of the Beaver Marsh by Jeffrey Gibson.

    Cuyahoga Valley

    National Park Ohio

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  • Valley Picnic Area Park Lot CLosed - Plateau Trail Loop Affected

    Valley Picnic Area Parking Lot is closed for the replacement of the damaged culvert on the Plateau Trail, from dusk on Monday, September 22 to 5 p.m., Thursday, October 2, 2014. Access to Plateau Trail is via the Oak Hill Trailhead. Loop unavailable.

  • Other Closures

    Valley Bridle Trail south of SR 303, across from golf course, is collapsed by river. Hard closure. Plateau Trail Bridge, north of Valley Picnic Area is closed. No detours. Plateau & Oak Hill trails are open. More »

Farming in a National Park

Lindley Barn restoration.

Lindley Barn restoration.

NPS/Ted Toth

Surrounded by the history of the valley's early farmers, modern families carry on agricultural traditions, while also introducing their own specialized practices. In order to preserve the valley's pastoral landscape and protect both natural and cultural resources, the National Park Service developed a program called the Countryside Initiative. This program invites farmers to lease land and farm in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Countryside Initiative program balances the needs of the land and farmer, who must follow strict guidelines for sustainable farm management.

The Countryside Initiative program began in 1999 to rehabilitate approximately 20 picturesque old farms that operated in the valley from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. As agriculture disappeared from the valley in the 20th century, these farms fell into disrepair. Through the Countryside Initiative program, the National Park Service celebrates farming and healthy land practices that help both the farmers and land.

 

While farming in a national park is an unconventional idea in America, that is not the case elsewhere in the world. In Great Britain, for example, over 90% of national park land is privately owned. Not only is it considered natural and normal to live within the park boundaries, farming is considered the only practical way to maintain the openness, beauty, and diversity of the countryside.

For more information on the Countryside Initiative click the links to the left.

 
Oral history audio.

In Their Own Words
Click the topics to hear stories about Cuyahoga Valley life.
Click here to read the text file.

Sustainability and the Small Farm (57 seconds)
Daniel Greenfield, from the Greenfield Berry Farm, talks about what it takes to be a sustainable farmer.

Farming in a National Park (1 minute 16 seconds)
Alan Halko, from the Spring Hill Farm and Market, describes the unusual challenges of farming on National Park Service land.



Also visit the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy website, and click to learn more about the goals of the Countryside Initiative: Rethinking Farming.

Did You Know?

Historic photo of canal boats along the Ohio & Erie Canal.

The Ohio & Erie Canal, which runs through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, was a 308-mile waterway connecting Lake Erie to the Ohio River. This transportation route, which influenced local and national prosperity, was dug entirely by hand by mostly German and Irish immigrants.