A letter from our Interim Executive Director -


'To everything there is a season'… And indeed, we have seen the sun-kissed lush, green pastures overtaken by crimson horizons and frost-dusted dawns, and still to come the crystal white blanket of winter that ushers in warm hopes for spring.

This is the time of year that a farmer's mind shifts from planting and harvest to dreaming and planning for the next season. Fall harvest is peaking and we've been fortunate to still have Mother Nature on our side - allowing fields to prosper right into the Thanksgiving season. This seems befitting, this year in particular.

If there were only a single season of gratitude and a moment more indicative of the changing of the seasons, this would be ours at Countryside. The things that we have to be grateful for this year are many - our farmers, our vendors, our donors and supporters, you - but all this gratitude begins - rightfully - with our Founder.

As you may know, our Founder, Darwin Kelsey, has moved into the role as Director Emeritus. Darwin has spent his lifetime in service of community and social good. He is a pioneer in Ohio's local food community, and he inspired an army of farmers and foodies with his vision and leadership for a world filled with thriving farms and food entrepreneurs. He has cultivated our community into one that supports the co-existence of environmental stewardship and enterprise, and the ideal that everyone should have access to healthy, local food. This is the mission and vision of Countryside that Darwin has built, and that we - his team - are now honored and privileged to carry forth into the next season of Countryside!

And just like Fall into Winter, this is our season to revel in the hopes and dreams of Spring - the future of Countryside, the joy of knowing that decades of careful hands at the plow have laid the groundwork for a bountiful future. And I, as the Interim Executive Director, am honored and humbled to be handed the reins that lead us into that future. But mostly, I am simply grateful to know Darwin and be allowed to be part of Countryside and his vision.

Please join me this season in thanking Darwin Kelsey for his service to our mission and making local, healthy food common-place in northeast Ohio. Darwin is still here to help us find our way and guide us through while in his Emeritus role, and I am asking you to join us in this effort by showing your support for Countryside at this special time as we plant the seeds for our future. Please, consider supporting Countryside, our truly special farm lease program here in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, our farmers' markets, food access programs and educational opportunities by making a donation in his honor - at any level. Be part of our next harvest - be part of the perennial work that Darwin has planted.

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tracy Emrick