Saturday, September 20, 2003

Evendale may take farm



By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Sandra Murphy, site manager of the Gorman Heritage Farm, heads up the path to the barn.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
EVENDALE - This village, home to GE Aircraft Engines and thriving industrial parks, might decide to get involved in a more pastoral endeavor.

Village officials are considering taking over operation of the Gorman Heritage Farm, a 100-acre organic farm that has produced corn, alfalfa, wheat, soybeans and sunflowers, and has offered educational programs for children and adults.

For the past seven years, the Cincinnati Nature Center has operated the farm, which dates to the first half of the 19th century. But for financial reasons, the Nature Center made the decision earlier this year to give up the farm.

The farm's deed gives Evendale first right of refusal. Dorothy and Jim Gorman, siblings whose family owned the farm for years, donated it to the Nature Center. Jim died two years ago, but Dorothy still lives in the white stone house built on the property in 1835.

"There is very much a passion among the people of Evendale for maintaining the farm in its current format," said Jeff Ficke, who heads an advisory committee to village council that is trying to determine if Evendale can afford to operate the farm.

The committee will present a report to council by the end of the year, and then council will make a decision.

Council recently allocated $35,000 to maintain the farm on a temporary basis.

"It provides a convenient place in the suburbs for kids who want to learn what happens on a farm," Evendale Mayor Doug Lohmeier said. The Nature Center is working with Evendale so that if the village takes over the farm, the transition will be smooth.

"This is a beautiful place," said Nature Center spokeswoman Rhonda Barnes-Kloth, as she watched chickens scrape dirt in their large pen. "We very much want this to stay a working farm and educational facility."

This is one of the few working farms in north-central Hamilton County.

"It's an asset not just for Evendale," Lohmeier said, but for the whole area.

E-mail skemme@enquirer.com




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