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A Family Farm

The Spicy Lamb Farm celebrates the abundance of life with local food, fiber, and fun. The farm, originally built in 1914, is located on 12 acres in the Village of Peninsula in the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP), surrounded by mature woodlands. This family farm has been run by Laura DeYoung since 2007. In 2012, the farm began grazing off site in Cleveland and then in Akron as part of the Urban Shepherds grazing program. In 2018, an additional 12 acres of pasture at Camp Ledgewood was leased from the Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio.

The family’s interest in sheep began when Laura spent her adolescent years living in England near the rural countryside. Her family had also had an orchard growing apples, plums, and pears. The passion for spicy herbs and vegetables came from a love of Asian food.

Historical Sketch

The Garvey farm was part of Lot 37, which was formerly Boston Township until it became part of the Village of Peninsula in the 20th century. Mary Ingerton Garvey purchased the 40-acre. She was born in Summit County in 1860 and lived there all her life. She married Daniel Garvey in 1880, who was born in Ireland in 1859 and came to the U.S. in 1877. He was likely a saloon keeper in the 1880's. They had three children. Until her death in 1913, the family lived on Main Street in Peninsula and not on the 40-acre parcel.

The house and original barn (lost in 2014) were built in 1914. Yet there is no evidence that the Garvey family ever farmed or lived on this farm. It may be that it was leased to a tenant farmer. Over the years, the property functioned as a farm with a farmhouse, barn, cultivated fields and pastures, an orchard, and a vineyard.

In 1920 Daniel sold the farm to Otto and Ida Stahlberg. In 1922, they sold it to Frank and Anastasia Balinski who retained ownership until 1943. During this period it is likely that many of the landscape and agricultural improvements occurred. 

In 1943, the farm was sold to the Jones family. At that time, the farm comprised some 70 acres reaching all the way back to Boston Mills Road. They also lease other lands from the top of the hill and farmed all the way out to Olde 8 including what is now Camp Ledgewood. They raised dairy cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits, horses, ducks, and bees. They planted an orchard and vineyard. Fields were used for pasture and corn. In what the park now calls the borrow pit, they planted watermelons and cantaloupe. They also ran a farm stand at the corner of Olde 8 and Boston Mills. They built the corn crib and other outbuildings which no longer exist. They farmed for some thirty years and then sold to the Hales who subdivided the property in 1969 and sold 10 acres to Clairmont and Barbara Ross.

On June 22, 1977, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park acquired the farm. On August 31, 2007, we secured a 60- year lease of the farm. We are currently farming approximately 10 acres as pasture, orchard, and gardens. In addition, we are grazing the adjacent power line with temporary fencing assisting heading north towards Boston Mills Road.

In 2011, the pavilion was added to the farm as a place for visitors to enjoy educational programming and meals thanks to the generous support of Greg Shellabarger.

On March 4, 2014, the barn was lost in a fire. It was rebuilt in 2015. The new barn reflects the original century barn but is a significant upgrade in terms of the heavy timber frames as well as daylighting with windows and skylights. The frame is mortise with white oak tenon  pegged into place with red oak pegs.

Environmental Sketch

The farm is located at the headwaters of an unnamed tributary in the Stanford Run watershed along the divide of the Boston Run watershed; both watercourses flow into the Cuyahoga River. Between the farmstead and pasture, farming has been setback from a riparian headwater stream and wetlands.

Surrounding the farm are mature woodlands. Redtail hawks, coyote, wild turkeys, deer, and other wildlife are often seen on the farm.


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