Just a couple of miles south of Peninsula, Ohio; deep inside the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, on the corner of Bolanz and Riverview roads, close beside the river and the heavily used bike and hiking path, sits another of the main summer and fall draws for the parks millions of visitors.
Rarer than ever today, a small family farm survives deep inside the park by filling a unique niche. It grows and sells some of the world’s best corn and fresh produce: really fresh.
Through nearly 70 years, the Szalay family has farmed the rich bottom land of the Cuyahoga and sold corn from a road side stand. Once the Park surrounded them and the bike path ran behind the farmhouse, they expanded the produce stand they ran and created a true farm market, selling the corn and vegetables they grew in the fields nearby and hundreds of other exquisite items from around the world.
Today, thousands of people flock to Szalay's to pick up corn just minutes from the stalk and a wide selection of other fresh vegetables, fruits, baked goods and specialty foods. Or they come in for a lemonade, or cider, or fresh baked corn, sausage sandwiches, baked turkey drumsticks or an ice cream cone (or two). Or they come just to take a break from the trail. They come by car. They come by bike. They hike in. They come by every way and from everywhere.
From the outside it all looks pretty benign. A classic farm house, a pole barn building used as an open air store. A hundred or so cars in the parking lot… with dozens of people scurrying about. The approach is outfitted with few traditional log chairs and tables and some rather unique seating arrangements (on covered farm wagons, covered swings, metal forged wagon-wheel rocking chairs with tractor seats, huge ‘family size’ swings that hold 6 people). Kids climb onto and off converted corn wagons and other unique serving areas (some think it's more fun than the circus).
Inside, and under the awning, things change fast. The place is a riot of color. The foods vary in every way: size, shape and color. The produce comes from as far away as South Africa, and as close as 100 yards from the stand. Dozens of people labor constantly restocking bins with hundreds of different items; cooking sandwiches and corn and piling soft serve into cones for the kids, big and small. Wagon loads of corn are being snapped up by shoppers and are constantly rotated and refilled.
The Szalays were nice enough to allow me to photograph things and in a few minutes I got an eyeful of color, shapes and sizes.
All of the images were made with the Tamron 18-270mm VC zoom.