Sunday, July 6, 2003

Growth changes everything

By Andrea Uhde
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Encroaching subdivisions are the biggest threats to Ohio's family farms, say two Tristate farmers whose families have plowed the same fields for more than 100 years.

"They're closing in on us," says Belva Barnthouse, 72, whose husband, Francis, inherited their 109-year-old Mason farm in Warren County. The farm has lasted through four generations.

But the other generations never had to wait 20 minutes to get out of the driveway on Brewer Road, Barnthouse says. "You can't even get out with your equipment to get out in the fields," she says. It's her husband's childhood home, and it will pass to the couple's two married daughters when the Barnthouses die. "What happens then, I don't know," she says.

John Forman, whose Franklin farm has been in his family for 138 years, has similar problems. "It's not as quiet as it was," he says.

Forman, 56, works a second job as a construction project manager for Wright State in Dayton so that he can afford to keep his land.

"There are less farms in the immediate area because of the urban sprawl," says Forman, whose farm is on Ohio 741."They were bought out by developers and individuals from Cincinnati and Dayton looking for country homes."

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