Peninsula Food Fest allows people to learn about farming, history

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published:

Peninsula -- Farming may seem like a thing of the past for most, but the "Local Food Fest -- A Homegrown Gathering" Aug. 4 will celebrate the strong agricultural history of the Cuyahoga Valley and the revitalizing of farmsteads in the Village of Peninsula area.

At one time there were a lot of farms in Peninsula, but they were purchased by Cuyahoga Valley National Park, said Karen Walters of the Peninsula Foundation Inc. As the Countryside Initiative realized the importance of farm history, they in a partnership with CVNP began leasing land in the park, and a new generation of small family farms and agriculture was born.

In celebration of this revival, the Peninsula Area Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Peninsula Foundation Inc. and the Countryside Conservancy are sponsoring the celebration of the local food movement and sustainable agriculture with the festival.

"We want to celebrate the family farm," Walters said.

This will be the first year of the event and the Countryside Initiative are trying to present an opportunity for people to come and visit the farms, said Diane Seskes, president of the chamber.

The Local Food Fest -- A Homegrown Gathering will include local food purveyors, food tastings, canning demonstrations and produce fresh from the garden throughout the village.

Other activities include Countryside Initiative farm tours, farm history programs, food and market vendors in Peninsula, local business specials and a home-grown evening at the G.A.R. Hall. In addition, Heritage Farms will host a day on the farm with an antique tractor and tool exhibit and other events.

Farm Tours And History

Visitors can choose three out of five area Countryside Initiative farms for a 30-minute tour at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for $5 per person at each farm. A map will be online and available at farms and businesses. The farms include the Trapp Family Farm (pigs, chickens, turkeys, vegetables and plowing with horses), 1019 W. Streetsboro Road; Neitenbach Farm (produce), 3077 Akron Peninsula Road; Goatfeathers Point Farm (goats), 4570 Akron Peninsula Road; The Spicy Lamb Farm (sheep, livestock and orchard), 6560 Akron Peninsula Road; and Greenfield Berry Farm (berries, produce and sunflowers), 2485 Major Road.

There are 11 farms in the Countryside Initiative and two more could be leased next year, said Tracy Emrick, Countryside Initiative Coordinator at Countryside Conservancy.

"We want to preserve the farms as working farms on land leased long-term from the national parks," Emrick said. "The farmers live on the property."

Separate from the Countryside Initiative farms is the Heritage Farm, a 165-year old five-generation farm that once grew oak trees to build towpath ships. Visitors can learn about antique tractors, farm tools, see the Women on the Farm display and listen to talks about the farm's past, present and future. Heritage Farms, 6050 Riverview Road, will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is a $5 admission per person. Daylilies will be on sale.

Food and market vendors

The event brings together a lot of organizations to help educate the public and present the different market vendors and cottage industries in Peninsula, Seskes said. They can learn about the history of Peninsula, farming, canning and how to cook a meal from freshly grown produce.

The vendors will be set up from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Green at Bronson Church, Route 303 in Peninsula. Vendors include the Pierogi Lady; Stray Dog Carts; Frankly Franks' Kettle Corn; McCoy's Custom Catering; Ohio Farm Direct; Made from Scratch; Crooked River Herb Farm; Sandi's Kitchen; Baked Earth; Green P Farm, T. by Sarah Inc.; KC Coffee Co.; The Spicy Lamb Farm; Soleil-Sol Farm; Ornery Goat; Peninsula Area Chamber of Commerce; The Peninsula Foundation; and more.

Beth Knorr will demonstrate canning techniques throughout the day.

Also, local businesses will have specials during the event. The Yellow Creek Trading Co., 1685 Main St., will have tastings, and Kool Things will sell tasty frozen treats on its porch; Trail Mix Peninsula, 1600 W. Mill St., will feature local food items sold in the store with samplings and tastings on the patio. Tina Bergman will perform from 1 to 3 p.m. on the patio; Le Seraglio, 1593 Main St., will provide complimentary baklava to shoppers; Elements Gallery, 1619 W. Mill St., is offering fine porcelain & stoneware tableware, wooden utensils and local honey for sale; Szalay's Farm Market, 4563 Riverview Road, is selling locally grown corn, produce, roasted sweet corn, fresh squeezed lemonade and sundaes; Brandywine Country Club, 5555 Akron Peninsula Road, is featuring Great Lakes Brewing Co. locally brewed and locally enjoyed products, samplings and tastings at its main clubhouse. Its main golf course is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the Par 3 course is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Winking Lizard Tavern, 1615 Main St. has Hoppin Frog's Turbo Shandy (beer) in the Cellar from 1 to 7 p.m.; Skip's Peninsula Junction, 1639 Mill St., is an open air market featuring local food and craft vendors; and Fishers Café & Pub, 1607 Main St. is serving Ohio Grass Fed Beef Burgers & Thirsty Dog beer.

Visitors can enter a Market Basket drawing by obtaining five signatures on a festival card from farmers or participating businesses and dropping it off by 5 p.m. at any of the locations. The winner does not need to be present and will be notified by phone.

Home Grown Evening

The Home Grown Evening program begins at 4 p.m. with local Wine & Craft Beer tasting with appetizer pairings at the G.A.R. Hall on the northwest corner of state Route 303 and Riverview Road. Wine and beer will be available for purchase.

National Park Service Ranger Rebecca Jones will talk about the history of farms in the Cuyahoga Valley from 4:30 to 5 p.m.

Then from 5 to 5:45 p.m. Ben Bebenroth of Spice Kitchen & Bar will demonstrate how to prepare corn pudding with brown buttered chanterelles, cherry tomatoes and fresh parsley and discuss the farm to table movement and the importance of locally grown food.

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased in advance at www.peninsulahistory.org or by calling 330-657-2528. Reservations are recommended.

Tickets include three tastings and one pour of locally bottled wines or local craft beers, locally grown and prepared appetizers, farming program and a cooking demonstration and a prepared dish from Bebenroth.

A Home Grown Evening emphasizes the importance of supporting local farms and the nutritional value of eating locally-grown foods, Walters said.

Pick up a Local Food Fest event brochure & map at participating locations or download online. For more information, go to www.explorepeninsula.com.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Facebook: Laura Freeman, Record Publishing

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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