Located in Pleasant Valley of Richland County, Malabar Farm is representative of the diversity of the glaciated Appalachian Plateau region and was the dream of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Louis Bromfield.
The Malabar Farm State Park Campground offers Non-electric campsites that can accommodate equestrian campers. Pets are permitted. The Maple Syrup Cabin offers a unique overnight experience (no pets). Reservations are required.
Exhibits in the Louis Bromfield Visitor Education Center feature agriculture, wildlife, energy, conservation, recycling, and literature through interactive displays. An adjacent gift shop includes many Ohio-produced items and Malabar Farm products. It features an expanded line book titles on sustainable energy, nature, simple-living, and agriculture along with the published works of Louis Bromfield.
Good catches of bluegill and catfish can be caught from the farm ponds at Malabar.
Several picnic areas have tables and grills. Some have drinking water and latrines are nearby.
Three hiking trails traverse the park:
- Doris Duke Woods Trail - 1 Mile - Easy
- Jungle Brook Trail - 0.7 Mile - Easy
- Butternut Trail - 0.8 Mile - Easy; walk through a cool cave
The Pleasant Valley Bridle Trail winds through and around the park. Seven miles of bridle trail in the park are open to hikers.
Under the proper conditions, park guests can enjoy sledding and cross-country skiing. Bring your own equipment; rentals are not available.
History & Natural Features
In the rolling countryside of Richland County, Louis Bromfield, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and dedicated conservationist, created his dream -- Malabar Farm. Inspired by his love of the land, Bromfield restored the rich fertility of the farmlands and preserved the beauty of the woodlands.
“The Big House,” as Bromfield fondly referred to his dwelling, began with a small existing farmhouse as a base and was enlarged into this 32-room home. The house, designed by both architect Louis Lamoreux and Bromfield, is a blend of Western Reserve architectural styles and was built to appear as if it had been added to over the years. Bromfield furnished the house predominantly in a French style with the original paintings and antiques collected during his world travels. Today, the Big House uses state-of-the-art, geo-thermal technology for heating, cooling, and humidification. This system helps preserve the contents of the house. The main barn is the largest building at the complex. It has a colorful mural of horses and a wagon painted on the door. On April 4, 1993, the barn tragically burned to the ground. Although modified to meet modern building standards, the new structure uses the same traditional construction methods perfected by the colonists. Many pieces of vintage farming implements are on display here.
In his book, Pleasant Valley, Bromfield wrote, "Every inch of it (the house) has been in hard use since it was built and will, I hope go on being used in the same fashion so long as it stands. Perhaps one day it will belong to the state together with the hills, valleys and woods of Malabar Farm." Bromfield's prophecy came true in August 1972, when the State of Ohio accepted the deed to Malabar Farm. The state pledged to preserve the beauty and ecological value of the farm.
Earlier that year, Bromfield's legacy to future generations came close to being extinguished. Malabar Farm, owned and operated by the Louis Bromfield Malabar Farm Foundation for 14 years, was threatened with foreclosure. But the Noble Foundation, which held the mortgage, agreed to erase the mortgage and accrued interest -- about $280,000 -- when the State of Ohio accepted Malabar Farm as a gift to the people of Ohio.
From 1972 to 1976, Malabar Farm was operated jointly by Ohio's Department of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture. Then in 1976, Malabar became one of Ohio's state parks. As a park, Malabar Farm is dedicated to perpetuating Bromfield's farming philosophies, preserving the Big House and its many artifacts, and providing a place where visitors can explore life on a farm and the beauty of nature.
On April 4, 1993 the main barn tragically burned to the ground. Through volunteers of the Timber Framers Guild of North America, a new barn was raised in September 1994. Although modified for modern building standards, the new structure used the same traditional construction methods perfected by the colonists.
Mt. Olive Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Pleasant Valley, holds the many characters referred to in Bromfield’s Pleasant Valley. Dating back to the 1820s, it is the resting place of the Bromfields and early pioneers from the valley.
The natural features of Malabar Farm are representative of the diversity of the glaciated Allegheny Plateau region of Ohio. This area is renowned for its interspersion of woodlands, lakes, streams and bogs along with villages, fertile valleys, dairy and grain farms. Located in the Pleasant Valley of Richland County, Malabar's forests and fields offer visitors a glimpse of both the cultural and natural history of the area. The rolling countryside and fertile farmlands of Malabar recreate the pleasure of life on the farm while the wooded ridgetops support an abundance of natural wonders.
Glaciers pushed up and over the hills of the area depositing rich soils in the valleys. The woodlands are diverse with beautiful stands of beech and maple along with remnant stands of eastern hemlock in the ravines. Sandstone outcroppings adorn the slopes covered with ferns and mosses. Trillium, spring beauties and wild blue phlox carpet the forest floor. The woodlands are home to the wood thrush, barred owl, fox squirrel and raccoon while the fields support populations of bluebird, red-winged blackbird, cottontail rabbit and red fox.
Once called Poverty’s Knob, Mt. Jeez stands towering above the valley and offers a superior overlook of Malabar Farm. The high valley wall opposite of Mt. Jeez is where Ferguson Meadow is located. Ferguson is the setting of Bromfield’s story about “Zenobia” and is a frequent mention in Bromfield’s books, Pleasant Valley and Malabar Farm. The horse trail passes through the meadow and is the location of several important landmarks and features including the ‘Ferguson Rock Shelter and Falls’ and the foundation of the Ferguson home.