Monday, June 20, 2011

Malabar Farm State Park

This farm sits in the Appalachian Plateau region of Ohio and was once owned by Louis Bromfield. He was a Pulitzer prize winning author who wrote 33 books and numerous screenplays. Bromfiel was said to have mentored Hemingway in his writing. Funny thing is, I do know what Hemingway wrote and I can’t say the same for Bromfield.  In recent years, as conservative farming has come into vogue, Bromfield is becoming more well-known. He has been called “the father of sustainable agriculture”.  Bromfield used conservative farm practices such as terracing and contour plowing on his dream farm Malabar in the 1940s. After his death the buildings and ground were turned over to the state of Ohio. The farm is still a working conservative farm which feeds the nearby prison population.
On Sunday afternoon John and I took a guided tour of the fields, farm and country house of 32 rooms. The core of the Big House was a simple two-story frame home built in the previous century.
 Prior to moving into this house Louis and his wife Bromfields and three daughters lived in France. Many of the furnishings still found in the house today are what they brought over from France. Below is a picture of Bromfield’s study. A bust of Voltaire always had a place of prominence on the windowsill, Bromfield called him his muse.
 Louis Bromfield loved to entertain. His close friend Humphrey Bogart married Lauren Bacall in the country house in 1941.  His guests were always expected to work on the farm. Jimmy Cagney was said once to have been sent into the village to sell the farm’s produce. Bromfield had 1,000 acres, 600 of which he kept for  wildlife.  The full beauty of Malabar can be seen from Mt. Jeez, the highest point in the park. After touring the farm we drove up that mountain. From the top we could view the surrounding countryside, we were told that 5 counties could be seen from here. Malabar in the Indian dialect means "beautiful hills and valleys", that aptly describes Bromfield's farm in Pleasant Valley.

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