"Man cannot himself escape from Nature. Neither can he ever subdue her or
attempt to exploit her endlessly without becoming himself a victim." - Louis Bromfield, Pleasant Valley, 1945
As I continued to travel north, I found a Hostelling International location in Ohio that seemed interesting. Again, I knew very little about the site's history pre-arrival, but I ended with a memorable three-day learning experience through a house tour, walking trails, exhibits, and great stories from the hostel manager.
Nestled in Pleasant Valley, Malabar Farm is the dream come true of Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, Louis Bromfield. Born nearby in 1896, he returned to the area and purchased several older farms to create Malabar Farm, and was one of the pioneers of sustainable agriculture, combining grass farming, woodlands and wildlife. He had studied agriculture at Cornell, journalism at Columbia, served in the army, and lived in France with his family, but his love of the land brought him home.
Using an existing farmhouse as the base, he and architect Louis Lamoureux built the "Big House", a 32-room mansion that was furnished and decorated in a French style. Visitors included local farmers and Hollywood stars, as there are a dozen films based on his novels and short stories. He also held to a philosophy that if you visit and eat, then you work the farm, too. It's noted that locals occasionally bought produce at his farm stand from James Cagney, and in May 1945, Bogart and Bacall were married at Malabar Farm.
After his death in 1956, the property was preserved for nearly 20 years, then became an Ohio State Park in 1972. It was Bromfield's wish that the Farm "go on being used in the same fashion so long as it stands." The Big House, and all its interior accessories remain as they were, from the furniture to the magazines! The house tour is a real step back in time.
Many other tales surround Malabar Farm, from its connection to the film, The Shawshank Redemption to the sad, true story of Ceely Rose, the local Lizzie Borden.
On a lighter note, I also learned some farm facts, so here's a little quiz for you:
The first person with 4 correct answers gets a large ice cream from their nearby farm on me!
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover