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A Family Farm

The Spicy Lamb Farm celebrates the abundance of life with local food, fiber, and fun. The farm, originally built in 1914, is located on 12 acres in the Village of Peninsula in the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, surrounded by mature woodlands.

The Spicy Lamb Farm is a family farm, run by Michael and Laura Minnig. The family’s interest in sheep began when Laura spent her adolescent years living in England near the rural countryside. Her family had also had an orchard growing apples, plums, and pears. The passion for spicy herbs and vegetables came from a love of Asian food.

The Spicy Lamb Farm has been a family operation since the fall of 2007, when it was leased from the CVNP as part of the Countryside Initiative. The base of the operation is in Peninsula, Ohio with a flock of production Dorset ewes, but other land is utilized for grazing through the Urban Shepherds grazing program.

 

Michael Minnig

Michael Minnig is retired from a career in the automotive industry, having worked for Firestone as a district operational manager, starting his own automotive business that he sold to become a top sales associate with Saturn. In retirement, he set up a contractor department for Menards, a building supply industry to farmers and manufactures. Michael also has a Bachelors of Arts degree in Education from the University of Arizona. He worked his way through school on a small ranch outside of Tucson. Today, he serves on the board of Urban Shepherds and manages the farm so he will tell you he is tired, not retired.

Michael can be reached at Michael@TheSpicyLamb.com.

 

Laura Minnig

Laura DeYoung Minnig is an environmental planner with a previous career in television.  She has an undergraduate in Philosophy of the Arts from Denison University, completed a master’s degree in Arts Management and her doctoral program in Urban and Regional Planning at The University of Akron. She is also is a founder and the Executive Director of Urban Shepherds, a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) created to help urban areas to stop mowing and start grazing.

Laura has been managing the farm's flock of polled production Dorset sheep since 2007. She is always seeking learning opportunities. She has visited and sought out mentoring and genetics following the Dorset breed around the world from K Bar K Farm in Pennsylvania, to Pollambi Farm in Armidale, Australia, to Ohio Farm in Gore, New Zealand, to Glengarry Poll Dorsets Farms in Fielding and Apiti, New Zealand, and to the Blackdown Flock at Great Garlandhayes Farm in Devon, England. 

Laura is an NSIP Certified Ultrasound Carcass Scanner trained through CUP Lab at Iowa State University. She completed Lamb 509: Producing and Marketing Quality Lamb Products at the Ohio State University Department of Animal Sciences. Laura has had necropsy training at Cornell University Ruminant Center Sheep Farm where she also completed her FAMACHA certification.

 Laura can be contacted at Laura@TheSpicyLamb.com.

 

Our Partners


Maurene Hillen, Sheep Dog Herding Trainer

Maurene Hillen is an Open handler from Michigan who comes down on Saturdays, weather depending, when she isn't trialing. She is a student of sheep and sheepdogs since 2001, and is still learning everything she can about holistic dog training, concentrating on establishing a partnership foundation for building herding skills.

She is taking over training at the farm and will be holding some novice trials for those of you getting started. Her training will avoid many traditional, often harsh, training methods. Instead, she will teach how using respect and clear communication is best for our dogs.

You can schedule an assessment or training with Maureen by emailing her at spicylambfarm@gmail.com   


 

Edie Hardin Steiner, Sheep Dog Herding Handler

Edie Steiner and her border collies do herding demonstrations on location. Edie volunteers giving demonstrations at Mutton Hill in the summer. Check the Summit County Historical Society for information on her Perkins Mansion shows.  You can contact Edie at modibo@sbcglobal.net.


 


Cindy Brewster, Plein Air Artist

Cindy Brewster specializes in doing commission dog and other animal portraits as well as plein air landscapes in graphite, charcoal, pen and ink, pastel, silverpoint, or oil. She has a BA in art from Macalester College. she taught art in public schools in before returning to school to study architecture. She worked as a planner, and then returned to school at the Cleveland Institute of Art. She has continued her education in workshops with artists Judith Carducci (Hudson, OH), Margaret Dyer (Atlanta, GA), and Marvin Mattelson (School of Visual Arts, NYC) with whom she studied classical portraiture. Her Border Collie portfolio is Work Art.

 


Elaine Price & Gordon Landefeld, Eco-Tourism Adventure Leaders

Elaine Price and Gordon Landefeld of NatureVaction will help you design your ecotourism adventure which begins, stops, and/or ends at The Spicy Lamb Farm.  Elaine is an environmental biologist by training, and Gordon a geologist by training. Both are outdoor enthusiasts who can showcase the fabulous natural assets of the Cuyahoga Valley. Their NatureVation Adventures  are fully contained, guided tours into the unique and often hidden natural places of northeast Ohio.  NatureVation finds the places, maps the route, secures any permits, researches the history and provides elegant food and beverages.  Contact them at info@naturevation.com for more information. 



 Brian McElhinney, Piper

Brian  McElhinney, the Akron Piper, plays at our annual Blessing of the Sheep and other events. He can be booked to play at your farm event. He is a brilliant performer and has one many piping competitions. For more information, contact him at brian@akronpiper.com


 


Jay Campbell, Shearer

Jay Campbell shears the flock each spring and our fall ewe lambs each fall. Sheep shearers are in demand and who shears our sheep is the most frequently asked question we get at the farm. In addition to shearing, Jay also breeds and trains border collies. He has a wealth of knowledge about sheep, having raised them all his life. Jay can be reached at 330-540-9289. 



Barbara Gedeon, Flowers & Gardening

Barbara Gedeon of Josiah Lincoln Clouser Flower Farm helps us manage our high tunnel hoop house where she also grows flowers. To order fresh flowers or dried flowers, she can be reached at bjgedeon@aol.com.

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Ed Pepera, Bee Keeper

Ed Pepera of Happy Thyme Garden Farm in Richfield is the bee keeper at the farm.  We sell pure, raw unfiltered honey from the bee hives. For more information on bee keeping and our honey, call or text Ed at (216) 280-2912.  




Greg Shellabarger, Volunteer Coordinator and Project Manager

The Spicy Lamb Farm is extremely thankful to Greg Shellabarger who is responsible for funding our wonderful pavilion, contributed to the barn raising, and many other farm improvements. In addition, Greg never misses a farm event and helps coordinate projects.

 

Historical Sketch

The Garvey farm was part of Lot 37, which was formerly Boston Township until it became part of the Village of Peninsula in the 20th century. Mary Ingerton Garvey purchased the 40-acre. She was born in Summit County in 1860 and lived there all her life. She married Daniel Garvey in 1880, who was born in Ireland in 1859 and came to the U.S. in 1877. He was likely a saloon keeper in the 1880's. They had three children. Until her death in 1913, the family lived on Main Street in Peninsula and not on the 40-acre parcel.

The house and original barn (lost in 2014) were built in 1914. Yet there is no evidence that the Garvey family ever farmed or lived on this farm. It may be that it was leased to a tenant farmer. Over the years, the property functioned as a farm with a farmhouse, barn, cultivated fields and pastures, an orchard, and a vineyard.

In 1920 Daniel sold the farm to Otto and Ida Stahlberg. In 1922, they sold it to Frank and Anastasia Balinski who retained ownership until 1943. During this period it is likely that many of the landscape and agricultural improvements occurred. 

In 1943, the farm was sold to the Jones family. At that time, the farm comprised some 70 acres reaching all the way back to Boston Mills Road. They also lease other lands from the top of the hill and farmed all the way out to Olde 8 including what is now Camp Ledgewood. They raised dairy cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits, horses, ducks, and bees. They planted an orchard and vineyard. Fields were used for pasture and corn. In what the park now calls the borrow pit, they planted watermelons and cantaloupe. They also ran a farm stand at the corner of Olde 8 and Boston Mills. They built the corn crib and other outbuildings which no longer exist. They farmed for some thirty years and then sold to the Hales who subdivided the property in 1969 and sold 10 acres to Clairmont and Barbara Ross.

On June 22, 1977, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park acquired the farm. On August 31, 2007, we secured a 60- year lease of the farm. We are currently farming approximately 10 acres as pasture, orchard, and gardens. In addition, we are grazing the adjacent power line with temporary fencing assisting heading north towards Boston Mills Road.

In 2011, the pavilion was added to the farm as a place for visitors to enjoy educational programming and meals thanks to the generous support of Greg Shellabarger.

On March 4, 2014, the barn was lost in a fire. It was rebuilt in 2015. The new barn reflects the original century barn but is a significant upgrade in terms of the heavy timber frames as well as daylighting with windows and skylights. The frame is mortise with white oak tenon  pegged into place with red oak pegs.

Environmental Sketch

The farm is located at the headwaters of an unnamed tributary in the Stanford Run watershed along the divide of the Boston Run watershed; both watercourses flow into the Cuyahoga River. Between the farmstead and pasture, farming has been setback from a riparian headwater stream and wetlands.

Surrounding the farm are mature woodlands. Redtail hawks, coyote, wild turkeys, deer, and other wildlife are often seen on the farm.

 

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