Early Conservation Farming In Richland County Ohio Malabar Farm
By Ginnie Baker
This area of Ohio, Richland County, has so much to offer. We have activities for all seasons from golf, swimming and boating to skiing.
But it also has some of the most beautiful scenery and farms in the state.
It’s the perfect place for someone like me to do natural and organic gardening.
Mansfield is in the heart of Richland County and is the birthplace of famous author and conservationist, Louis Bromfield. He lived on beautiful Malabar Farm for years.
The breath-taking Big House at the farm was the site of the wedding of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, close friends of Bromfield’s.
Bromfield was born in Mansfield just north of Bellville, and bought 1,000 acres in Lucas, a few short miles from my home in Bellville, and the farm became his major work during his last 20 years.
Bromfield was an early proponent of organic and self-sustaining gardening. Malabar Farm was one of the first to stop using pesticides and the farm was used as a government test site for soil conservation practices.
Bromfield was born in 1896 and made his home at Malabar Farm until his death in 1956.
Bromfield won the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for best novel for “Early Autumn”. All of his 30 books were best-sellers, and many, such as “The Rains Came” and “Mrs. Parkington,” were made into successful motion pictures.
In 1945, Bromfield wrote “Pleasant Valley,” a book about the area around Malabar Farm.
The focal point of Louis Bromfield’s first novel, “The Green Bay Tree,” was Oak Hill Cottage in Mansfield. It’s been called ‘One of the most perfect Gothic houses in the United States.’
Bromfield is also credited, if that’s the correct word, for introducing the wild rose to the area, a bush that isn’t too popular with local farmers! The wild rose is a tough plant and multiplies rapidly in open fields. Its single petal roses are pretty but are the bane of most farmers.
I have quite a few on my homestead and count on them in fall to be loaded with rose hips that I use for fall and winter indoor decorating.
Malabar Farm became a State Park and for years, I have been there for their programs, including the Maple Syrup festival in early spring.
In 1994, the big barn was restored by members of the Timber Framer’s Guild. They drew a large crowd as the huge beams were manually put in place.
Malabar also hosts an annual canine event, MalaBark in the Park.
Along with his conservation techniques and his many books, Bromfield was also known for his love for his Boxers. MalaBark is a fun event for owners and their canine companions with many rescue groups on hand with pups who are looking for new homes.
The national group, Rescue Road Warriors, are there telling their awesome story of how they transport rescue dogs to their new homes. Members of the group, all across the country, work in tandem to drive the dogs in relays to their new owners. Each “lap” is approximately a two hour drive for each volunteer driver as they lovingly transport the pooches to their new homes. Truly, a labor of love.
Presented by the Malabar Farm Foundation, MalaBark has veterinarians on hand to answer questions and insert microchips plus others to give tips on pet grooming. They also have vendors of pet products and representatives from various County Humane Societies along with local shelters.
Malabar Farm is just one of many attractions in this area, bringing people from all over to visit Richland County.
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