Uncle Sam Wants You...to Farm National Parkland! - Modern Farmer

Uncle Sam Wants You…to Farm National Parkland!

In the protected land of Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley National Park, fruits, vegetables and herbs grow abundantly. Turkeys, goats, pigs and even the occasional human call this land home. They're part of Countryside Initiative, a program to bring the area back to its agricultural roots.


According to the Countryside Initiative website, prehistoric people began farming in the Cuyahoga Valley nearly 2,000 years ago. The practice continued there in the 18th and 19th centuries because of easy water access via the Cuyahoga River, but by the middle of the 20th century, most farmers had left. The Countryside Initiative program began in 1999 as a way to preserve the rural landscape, but the opportunity isn’t handed out to just anyone.

Ten working farms have been established within the park through the program since 1999, including an award-winning vineyard where you can get wine on tap and a farm with its own food truck. Two parcels of land within the park will soon be up for lease to farmers willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

If you want the opportunity to farm on national parkland, check out the last Request for Proposals (RFP), which was released in 2011. A new RFP is slated for release in late May or early June, so check the website for new updates. Competition is steep, and the two lucky farmers who earn the right to farm on this land will get to do so “only after powerfully articulating his or her plan to manage and farm that site through the entire term of the [60-year] lease,” according to the site.

So, if you’re into it – do you think you’ll make the cut?

Correction: The original article incorrectly reported that there would be three parcels of land up for lease, rather than two.

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