Celebrating local foods in CVNP
CVNP — Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) has joined other Northeast Ohio partners in celebrating 2012 as the Year of Local Foods. The park offers a cornucopia of food and farm-related opportunities, including farmers’ markets, activities for children, programs to learn new skills and online stories of farming. This summer, have fun getting back to the farm and discovering local foods.
|Children are shown taking part in last summer’s Farm Camp by participating in a farmers’ market.
|Photo: Ted Toth; courtesy of National Park Service|
To accomplish this purpose, the National Park Service (NPS) created the Countryside Initiative. Through this program, the NPS has leased 11 properties to farmers committed to sustainable farming. These farms have become the springboard for the park’s focus on food and farming. A nonprofit partner, the Countryside Conservancy works alongside the NPS to implement the vision for farming in the valley.
The growth of the Countryside Initiative has coincided with the growth of the local food movement, which works to reconnect people with the source of their food. In the 19th century, valley farmers primarily produced for local and regional markets. Today most food travels an average of 1,500 miles before it gets to our table. In the 19th century, we were a nation of farmers. Today less than 2 percent of the U.S. population works the land. The local food movement strives to re-entwine our lives with farming and help us relearn where our food comes from.
You can start your exploration of local foods in the valley at the Countryside Farmers’ Markets. In addition to valley farmers, these markets feature sustainable farms throughout the region as well as locally prepared foods. The markets include:
√ Countryside Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow: Saturdays through Oct. 27, 9 a.m. to noon. Park Ranger Rebecca Jones shares the lore of seasonal fruits and vegetables at this market on the fourth Saturday of each month.
√ Countryside Farmers’ Market at Highland Square: Thursdays through Oct. 4 from 4 to 7 p.m.
Continue your exploration by visiting Countryside Initiative farms. Some offer special programs to let you enjoy the setting of a farm:
• Tenth annual Summer Solstice Wine, Art and Music Festival June 22-24 at Sarah’s Vineyard, 1204 W. Steels Corners Road in Cuyahoga Falls. This festival will feature area artists, Ohio wineries and live music from local bands. The hours are June 22 from 4 to 10:30 p.m., June 23 from noon to 10:30 p.m. and June 24 from noon to 6 p.m.
Sarah’s Vineyard also will present the second annual Red, White and Blue July Fourth Celebration, July 4 from 5 to 11 p.m. Admission is $5.
For more information, call 330-929-8057 or visit www.sarahsvineyardwinery.com.
• Weekend Family Theatre in the Big Red Barn at Canal Corners Farm & Market, 11721 Tinkers Creek Road in Valley View, Saturdays and Sundays, June 23 through Sept. 16, at 1 and 3 p.m. The fee is $10. For more information visit, www.facebook.com/canalcorners.
• Greenfield Berry Farm Dinners, multicourse dinners throughout summer and fall featuring local chefs and naturally grown local fruit and vegetables. For dates and details, call the farm, located at 2485 Major Road in Peninsula, at 330-657-2924 or email email@example.com.
People start to develop their food preferences when they are young, so it is never too early to introduce your children to local foods. Hale Farm & Village and the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park are partnering with the NPS to offer a Farm Camp the week of July 8 for children entering fourth through eighth grades. Campers will dig in the dirt, plant seedlings, harvest crops and learn kitchen skills. Overnight accommodations occur at Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center with field trips to Hale Farm & Village and Countryside Initiative farms. For more information, call 330-657-2796, ext. 100, or visit www.conservancyforcvnp.org.
Other programs reintroduce skills lost as our lives moved away from the farm. Countryside U is the Countryside Conservancy’s series of workshops, classes and seminars designed to mobilize the next generation of food producers. To register and for location information, call Katie Myers-Griffith at 330-657-2542, ext. 222, or visit www.cvcountry side.org. Programs will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. and include:
√ Exploring the Small Farm Dream: June 18 and 25 and July 2;
√ Funding Your Farm Business: June 19;
√ Land for Your Farm Business: July 24; and
√ Blueberry 101: Aug. 30.
Programs featuring food and farming will continue into the fall. Check out the park’s Schedule of Events each season to find the latest happenings. It is available online at www.nps.gov/cuva and at park visitor centers. To gain a richer understanding of the valley’s farming history, also browse the online collection of stories collected from current and former valley farmers and their descendants by visiting www.nps.gov/cuva/historyculture/stories.htm.
Jennie Vasarhelyi is chief of interpretation, education and visitor services for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
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