Farming vegetables in Cuyahoga and Summit counties began with American Indians as early as 800 BC. Ohio's American Indian cultures grew corn, beans, squash, melons, apples, and a variety of garden produce. Corn remained the most important crop for 19th century farmers, who also grew wheat, oats, potatoes, apple trees, and other garden plants and vegetables.
As the industrial boom of the early 20th century lured farmers away to Cleveland and Akron, agriculture in the valley became more focused on truck farming. Truck farming meant that the farmer grew a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and sold these products on a smaller and more local scale. Truck farms and gardens often provided families with all the food they needed for themselves, as well as provided additional income from roadside stands and markets.
Corn has been grown in the Cuyahoga Valley for almost 1,500 years, beginning with Ohio's American Indians. Valley farmers in the 19th century continued to raise corn and passed the tradition along to later generations. Since 1931, the Szalay family has picked and sold sweet corn at their farm along Riverview Road. The cornfields are a familiar sight to visitors in the Everett area. In Sagamore Hills to the north, the Polcens also operate a full-time sweet corn business, which Gerald Polcen's grandfather founded over 90 years ago. Gerald and his wife Marilyn sell their corn from a stand on SR 82 during the summer.
In Their Own Words
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Hunt Farm Truck Farming (40 seconds)
Helyn Toth describes her family's truck farm operation in the 1930s.
Szalay Farm Truck Farming (18 seconds)
Irene Kusnyer talks about truck farming on the Szalay Farm in the 1930s, before the business grew in scale.
The Fulltime Farmer (17 seconds)
Gerald and Marilyn Polcen describe what it takes to work as full-time sweet corn farmers.
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