The History of Sunrock Farm
The original farm was 47 acres. Fourteen acres were taken during the construction of I-471, leaving 33 acres, which Frank Traina purchased in October of 1978. He later purchased 30 more acres of never farmed woods next to the original farm. Finally, in 2003 Frank and Debbie purchased “South Sunrock”, 43 acres on the opposite side of 3 Mile Creek so that today Sunrock Farm is 106 acres of land.
The farmhouse and old barn on Sunrock Farm were built by German settlers in 1848. The 5 big rock piles in the woods around the farm tell us that a long time ago someone cut down all the trees and plowed the hills to grow corn. When their plow hit a rock they would pick up the rock and throw it in a pile. The cornfield is now gone, and trees have grown back. Only the huge rock piles remain in the midst of woods to tell their silent story.
The family who built the stone farmhouse and big barn with stone and timbers— Igancio and Mary Ruschmann— had 12 children. The family lived in two rooms. One of the rooms was the kitchen with a wood burning stove, table, and chairs. The other room was where everyone slept. Outside was the outhouse. The parents eventually sold the place to their son Charlie and moved to another farm.
In 1925 Frank Miller bought the place to use as a residence. He sold it in 1950 to Otis Fox who ran a tavern in Cincinnati. His widow then sold it to Frank Traina in 1978, while Frank was still teaching at Northern Kentucky University. At this time his office was a 20-minute walk from Sunrock Farm. The place was covered with trash and it took over 3 years to haul it all away.
In1981 Sunrock farm opened as an educational farm for children. Dr. Frank Traina became “Farmer Frank” and introduced children to the wonderful world of nature and how nature produces the food that they eat. His goal was to “Help Children Touch the Earth” by offering visiting children a series of farm and nature experiences. Today over 30,000 children visit Sunrock Farm annually.
Reclaiming abused land takes time and planning. The hilly nature of Sunrock Farm makes it much more suitable for farming activities which don’t disturb the thin layer of topsoil. Instead of plowing, we grow hay and pasture animals. We grow crops in those areas which are flat, and where the soil can be more easily enriched with compost after harvest.