33% of $250,000 goal
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Countryside was created in 1999 to help Cuyahoga Valley National Park solve the problem of how to conserve the quickly disappearing rural character of the Valley—the dozens of once vibrant farmsteads had fallen to the plow of industrialization and the concentration of our food system.
(Darwin Kelsey (center), Lisa Petit and Craig Kenkel (current/former CVNP Superintendents),
and new farmers Mark and Emily Trapp, of Trapp Family Farm | Circa 2013)
After identifying farms to be resuscitated and attracting like-minded people to lease the land, we began a farmers’ market program in 2004 to offer these Countryside Initiative Farms direct consumer access. In 2009, Countryside began offering a food access and nutrition incentive program to increase local produce buying power. And then the New Farmer Academy was launched in 2018 as an intern and apprentice program to train beginning farmers and provide labor assistance to our regional network of mentor farmers.
In the over 20 years since our founding, Countryside’s core programs have evolved significantly and our work has come to include programs related to the key links in a sustainable food system – farmland, farmers, food, and community.
However, COVID exposed what we already knew: our food system is most resilient when it is local, personal, and cooperative. Our network of farmers, partner organizations, staff, and volunteers never missed a beat. Like many small businesses and nonprofits, our hard work during those difficult times came at a cost. Staff turnover, burnout, and difficulty securing funding have taken their toll.
Frankly, our finances are in very poor condition. We need your help.
The single phrase, “connecting people, food, and land,” was part of our mission statement when Countryside began. It is the core of our current mission “to build a thriving local food community by connecting people, food, and land, in and beyond Cuyahoga Valley National Park.”
(Countryside Farmers' Market at Howe Meadow, Spring 2022)
Countryside can survive this setback because you've seen what we can accomplish when we come together as a community. This is messy, but we’ll figure it out. Like our food system, our organization is most resilient when our work is local, personal, and cooperative.
This year, in light of our circumstances, we are kicking off our annual harvest campaign early, and asking directly for your help. Our fundraising goal of $250,000 will ensure that:
- Our market team will see you at Howe Meadow on Saturday mornings
- Our farmers have resources to run their businesses
- Our families can put local, healthy food on their tables
- Our interns can harvest the fall crops they have planted
- Our farmland is protected and preserved
- Our staff can make certain that Countryside is in a position of strength going into 2023
We can do this with your help. Please join us in looking ahead to the future of Countryside.
The Countryside Team