national parks

Could Farming Secure the Future of America’s National Parks?

Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio allows farmers to be stewards of the land and protect its rich cultural heritage

John Keeble/Getty Images

An experimental project underway at a national park in Ohio could hold the keys to protecting not only American land but the American farmer, NBC News reports.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, about 20 miles south of Cleveland, is the only national park to lease land to farmers, and the 10 farms on its 50 square miles produce an assortment of goods, including berries, wine, eggs and lamb.

Ohio has a rich agricultural history with hundreds of farmers settling in the area during the mid to late 1700s, drawn by proximity to the Ohio-Erie canal, access to the Cuyahoga River and lush vegetation. Today, the state’s agribusiness is worth more than $47 billion, and one in seven Ohioans is employed in the industry, according to some estimates.

Countryside Food and Farms, the local nonprofit that helped design the farming plan for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, drew from programs in Europe and came up with the initiative to lease 10 farmsteads to private farmers, who would become stewards of the land and help protect the park's cultural heritage.

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