City of Green Selects Farmer to Implement its Hartong Farmstead Initiative
Green, OH – Mayor Dick Norton is pleased to announce that Sasha Miller has been selected to oversee the City’s Hartong Farmstead initiative. Sasha, along with husband James and their family, has been chosen to establish a sustainable agricultural enterprise within the City’s Historic Hartong Farm house, barn, out buildings and 22 acres of surrounding parkland. The property is located within Southgate Park, which is accessed from Boettler Park, 5300 Massillon Road.
The city's request for proposals, issued late August of 2014, garnered seven responses. The RFP is modeled after that of Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, a program established in 1999 which leases national parkland and historic homesteads to farmers as a way to preserve and protect the rural landscape in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
“The selection committee agreed from the very beginning that it would be better to turn away all applicants rather than choose a proposal that was simply mediocre,” said Sarah Haring, community development administrator and project lead on the initiative for the City of Green. “But the reality is, we received several really strong applications and the decision to choose Sasha was not an easy one. But once you meet her, you understand why she inspires confidence. She is engaging and has a strong vision for this land we love. We look forward to what the future holds at the Hartong farmstead.”
Both Sasha and James have extensive experience in business and community development, and plan to recreate the Hartong Farm into a learning permaculture farm that demonstrates how the careful consideration of ecological needs and integration of diverse plant and animal activities results in a more innovative and productive farming enterprise, as well as a sustainable income for their family.
“We are very excited to have the City’s support to develop a learning permaculture farm in Green, and to participate in the regional development of the food economy alongside amazing groups like the Conservancy Farms,” said Sasha Miller.
The operation she is planning will have several product clusters including annual vegetables, fruits, berries and herbs, and animal products, to be sold at farmers markets, through a community-supported agriculture program, wholesale and pick-your-own. Sasha Miller also looks forward to building partnerships with organizations and businesses, and to providing permaculture education programs and consulting services to the community.
Northeast Ohio has been slowly but surely strengthening its local food economy, with growing numbers of consumers showing support at Farmers’ Markets, and innovative small farms thriving in response. A learning permaculture farm will serve as a foundation for Green to become a regional leader in building a more sustainable food economy.
“It is such a fantastic time to be part of the NEO food community!” said Sasha Miller. “There are so many innovative organizations and successful operations sprouting up in the last decade, throughout the region. I’m excited to participate, and expand the principles of social and environmental sustainability.”
The family anticipates moving into the farmhouse in spring after the lease agreement is approved by City Council. Once settled, the remainder of the year will be spent on planning for the first harvest in 2016.
ABOUT HISTORIC HARTONG FARMSTEAD
The City of Green purchased The Levi Hartong House and Farm as part of the acquisition of Southgate Park in 2005. The homestead is the only property in Green listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The homestead is locally significant in representing patterns in agriculture, as a nineteenth-century Summit County, Ohio farmstead anchored by a farm house and a substantial 1883 Standard barn, along with additional agricultural outbuildings, ponds, associated agricultural fields, and a family graveyard. The property is also significant for its architecture, including the Eastlake design elements evident in the house, and the presence of the Standard barn, a former agricultural mainstay on Eastern Ohio farms. The Hartong Farm is an important surviving link to the nineteenth-century agricultural heritage of Green Township.
The land was first farmed by Moses Grable prior to the 1839 acquisition of the property by his father, Jonathan, who then farmed the property for nearly two decades until relocating to the village of Greensburg, where he died in 1856. Grable and other members of his family are buried in a small family graveyard on the property. Cyrus Hartong purchased the farm from the Grables in 1859. Levi J. Hartong (1844-1927) was born in Green Township, one of the ten children of Cyrus and Elizabeth Hartong. Levi Hartong and his wife Sevilla (Yerrick) Hartong purchased 116-acres of land from his parents in 1873. In 1883, Levi and Sevilla built the main two-story portion of the home and barn. Levi Hartong and his family farmed the property for the balance of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. The majority of the buildings on the property were erected by Levi Hartong, including the farmhouse and the Standard barn.
ABOUT THE MILLERS
Sasha Miller, originally from Moldova, spent much of her youth in Northeast Ohio; she graduated from Solon High School. She completed a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Religion from Denison University. She also holds a Master’s of Public Administration degree from Cleveland State University. Sasha has diverse experiences with sustainability and community development, including time living at the Homestead at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where growing your own food and sharing it with community is part of the daily routine for students. Also as part of her studies, she spent time visiting and working on sustainable farms, including permaculture farms in Australia, and in Ohio. Sasha’s academic background includes a focus on Economic Development, and developing local food systems. She is passionate about strengthening communities by developing local food related businesses. Currently Sasha is working on her Permaculture Certification.
James Miller grew up in Holmes County and graduated from the University of Akron’s business school. James will continue to work full-time in the craft beer industry as a Regional Sales Manager with Two Brothers Brewing Company, and will spend his spare time contributing to the operation.
Sasha and James Miller recently returned to the area from Chicago with their two young sons and look forward to joining the community of Green.
ABOUT SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND PERMACULTURE
Sustainable agriculture has become a more popular concept, as almost everyone has become familiar with grass-fed meat and organic produce. It is common to see ‘natural’ label on grocery store shelves, and Farmers’ Markets have become a popular weekend destination. Sustainable agriculture has become a community value that more people actively support with their time and with their dollars. Permaculture is a philosophy that pushes the envelope of sustainability in food production and land use. Permaculture strives to return land back to a more complex ecology, while still providing beneficial economic agricultural products. A learning permaculture farm can serve as a nexus for real impact. The social dialogue around sustainability in food production is important so our public policies represent real efforts for pushing businesses toward environmental and social sustainability, which results in economic success too.
The City of Green, Ohio, founded in 1992, is a prosperous, progressive and promising city with more than 25,000 residents. Approximately 33.5 square-miles, Green is located in southern Summit County. Visit www.cityofgreen.org.
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