|By DOUG GRAVES
EVENDALE, Ohio — Looking for sunflowers in Hamilton County is like finding a needle in a haystack. After all, there are more golf courses than farms in this southern Ohio country, and rural settings are dwindling rapidly.
But thanks to volunteers at Gorman Heritage Farm in Evendale, there are four full acres of the big, beautiful plant. It’s no wonder they call it the Sunflower Festival.
“We’re in our sixth season with this show,” said Gorman Heritage Farm Executive Director Sanda Murphy. “This is a working farm, and it gives visitors a chance to see life on the farm as it was more than 100 years ago. We still have chickens, rabbits, horses, alfalfa fields, cornfields and in the fall we like to show off our sunflowers.”
The Sunflower Festival is the farm’s largest celebration and includes music, activities, educational programs and horse demonstrations.
Shawnee, Miami, Mingo and Chickasaw Indians originally hunted the area of Gorman Heritage Farm. European settlers made their way into the area in the mid-1700s and in 1789 James Cunningham moved from Kentucky to 640 acres of land, which included the limestone slope and lowland fields, which are now Gorman Heritage Farm.
By 1835 a house was built on the property by a Scottish immigrant, who eventually moved to Illinois and sold the land in Ohio to a cousin named George Brown. His daughter, Isabella, married Amos Gorman and they had six children. One child, named Pete Gorman, was the father of Jim and Dorothy Gorman. Jim and Dorothy took over operation of the farm in 1943.
In 1966, Dorothy and Jim turned the farm over to the Cincinnati Nature Center, which turned the farm into a Heritage Farm and outdoor educational center.
And in 1996 the Village of Evendale donated a 22-acre parcel that includes an interpretive building and a parking lot.
In 2003, the Cincinnati Nature Center turned the farm over to the Village of Evendale, which established the Gorman Heritage Farm Foundation to operate the farm.
To this day there are hiking trails, children’s garden and educational programs - all thanks to 300 volunteers.
On most weekends adults and children can stroll through the premise of this working farm, watch exhibits and pet farm animals.
The farm is working toward becoming self-sufficient through an endowment, starting with a $500,000 donation from Dorothy Gorman upon her death in January.
This farm news was published in the Oct. 18, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.