Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stratford Ecologial Center


It's the season of fall festivals. For the most part, our family avoid them... mostly because we are not the best at fighting crowds, wait in line, and spend a lot on really rather bad-for-you foods.


But I think that we just found the perfect festival for ourselves, and sadly, you all will have to wait until next year to experience it, too (unless, of course, you went there today!).


Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware holds an annual Harvest Festival. The place itself is worth a visit regardless of what is happening there (a working farm, animals, greenhouse, children's garden), but with the festivity, our family was impressed by the low-key, informative and fun afternoon we spent at the center.


The center's main mission is to educate young people about the food system, how food is grown, and how to respect the earth with organic practices. They have vegetables and well as livestock on site, plus a good flock of chickens and roosters in the orchard.


Today, families and children were treated to several activities, art booths, wool spinning, felting, sauerkraut making. Even the turtle lady was there (a very popular lady today, I've got to say).


Some got to ride horses, meet donkeys, and learn the differences between the two. Farm kitties appeared out of nowhere for children to follow.


There were goats, sheep, pigs, and cows munching on the just rained-on green grass being lit up by the much appreciated afternoon sun.


Secret gardens and hiking paths to the sugar shack were also good distractions into the wonder of nature.


Musicians entertained throughout the festivities. Folk singers, and bands took stage and sang nature songs. We had to remind ourselves that we were still in Ohio, and not back in Northern California!


After all, it does not really matter where we are, does it? The right spirit was there, shared by all the people attended. Together, we celebrated the earth, the harvest, and this day at the Ecological Center where its vision was, clearly, being realized.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Malabar Farm State Park


As a special birthday gift from my family, I was given a choice to go anywhere in Ohio for a day. My mind started racing. I grabbed some books I had been reading about this (still) new state of ours, and I knew that I had to prioritize where it was that would make sense for a day trip from Columbus that we would all enjoy.


When I read the article about Malabar Farm in Edible Columbus last spring, I ear-marked it, knowing that I would want to get back to it at some point. Sure enough, it came in handy. Out of all the places I read about in this book, Malabar Farm was by far the most appealing place to spend the last day of my 35th year on the planet.


A bit embarrassed that I didn't know who Louis Bromfield was before reading about the farm, I did a little research before our journey to his farm up north. An accomplished author and a notable farmer, Bromfield was quite a pioneer in environmental conservation and sustainable farming practices (my kind of hero!). After several books (with a pulitzer prize to boot), and a decade or so in France, Bromfield returned home to Ohio and built the homestead where he spent the rest of his life close to the land that he clearly loved.


The trip from Columbus took about 1.5 hours, straight up I-75, and through beautiful small country roads. The farm is well marked, and is nestled in the rolling green hills of Pleasant Valley.


As part of Ohio State Park, Malabar Farm is free to visitors. You only have to pay fees for the tours through the main house, and the tractor ride that takes you around the property. We opted for a self-guided tour, with a map and descriptions of each building in hand.


The farm has several animal residents: goats, sheep, cows, chickens, turkeys and horses to name a few. It also has a smokehouse, and greenhouse, and several other features that made us feel like we were visiting a real operating small scale farm.


On the way out of the park, we drove up Mt. Jeez for a panoramic view of the whole farm cradled by the valley. The day was grey, the sky blanketed with heavy clouds. But the land still speaks for itself. It still embodies the man who had a vision, who lived his dream, and left it for us to enjoy long after his days.

It was a most wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of a new year.

Malabar Farm State Park

4050 Bromfield Road
Lucas, Ohio 44843
Phone: (419) 892-2784

Park Hours
Daylight, closes at dark.

Visitor Center/Gift Shop Hours
Memorial Day thru Labor Day
7 Days A Week 10 AM thru 5 PM

P.S. Before you reach the farm, Malabar Restaurant (and an adjacent small farm stand) boasts the locavore ideology and delicious creations. Too bad it was closed when we visited, but now we have a good reason to go back, don't we?

Malabar Farm Restaurant

3645 Pleasant Valley Road
Perrysville, Ohio 44864