Farming in a National Park

Scaffolding is stacked up along the side of a brown wooden barn while the framing is being replaced.
The Lindley Barn during 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, Cuyahoga Valley National Park developed a farming program. This program invites farmers to lease land and farm in the national park. It aims to balance the needs of the land and farmer, who must follow strict guidelines for sustainable farm management.

The farming program began as the Countryside Initiative in 1999. Its goal was to rehabilitate approximately 20 picturesque old farms that operated in the valley from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s. As agriculture largely disappeared from the valley in the 1900s, these farms fell into disrepair. Through the farming program, the National Park Service celebrates farming and healthy land practices that help both the farmers and the 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.


Last updated: May 8, 2024

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