This year we harvested a small crop of celery here at the homestead. It was our second attempt at growing celery. Sadly, last year’s crop failed to flourish. However, this year we harvested our own homegrown celery for use in the kitchen.
Our decision to grow celery was an homage to a piece of history from this place. At the time of his passing, Samuel Machamer, son of George Machamer – discussed in our earlier blog A Place with a History (I) – bequeathed the land to his wife, Sue Yoder. The Yoder family would, in turn, live and operate a truck farm on the property until the early 1970s.
Celery grew readily in the wet, black soils of Hartville and celery farms were plentiful throughout the Hartville area. Celery was a part of the livelihood of the Yoder Family. Our home itself was once a celery barn.
In 1940, Joseph P. Yoder built part of the modern day house over the old celery barn foundation. Architecturally it has since changed, but this house was their home. For over thirty years, this land produced and flourished under the Yoder family. The Yoders lived and farmed the land until they sold the property to Richard and Mary Korda in 1972.
Christine and I would like nothing more than to return the land to the agricultural roots of the property under the Yoder family. It is our dream to both live and make a livelihood from the land itself. The 2022 celery crop was a nod to that history.
Of course, celery isn’t the only crop we’re growing this year. And celery isn’t the only crop grown on our homestead in an homage to the past.
This year we also planted a crop in honor of an early revolutionary figure in restorative farming practices. Malabar Spinach, a nod to the late author-turned-farmer, Louis Bromfield, and his central Ohio farm – Malabar.
We won’t go into extensive detail about Bromfield and the thousand acre Malabar Farm here. Ohio Memory – a collaborative program of the Ohio History Connection and the State Library of Ohio does an excellent job of that here. Author Stephen Heyman also provides an exceptional account of Bromfiled and Malabar Farm in his 2020 book, The Planter of Modern Life: Louis Bromfield and the Seeds of a Food Revolution.
We do, however, enjoy making an occasional pilgrimage to Malabar Farm to seek inspiration and reconnect with a part of Ohio history through today’s Malabar Farm State Park. There’s something incredible about walking the land, touching the earth, and feeling a connection to such a place that is truly inspiring.
It’s nice to visit a place with a history. Malabar was once “the most famous farm in America” while under Louis Bromfield’s hand. He leveraged his fame to show America that food could be produced while regenerating the land. He shifted the paradigm from one of agriculture taking from the land to a way of farming that improved the land and built community. He was a pioneer in restorative agriculture and his influence can still be seen today – Think Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia.
Our daytrip to Malabar reinvigorated us and sparked the conversation of what to accomplish next on our little homestead. While nowhere near the 1,000 acres of Bromfield’s Malabar Farm, we’re going to make an impact right here.
Maybe in the future you will visit our place with a history. Here at Headwaters Homestead.