Emily Stefanak Trapp ’04

With the help of their two draft horses, Doc and Dan, Emily Stefanak Trapp ’04 and her husband, Mark Trapp, have taken  the ethos of sustainable living to heart. In 2012, disheartened by the corporate lifestyle they were living, Mark and Emily signed a 60-year lease with the Countryside Initiative to cultivate a 30- acre plot of land in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  Ever since, they’ve been living off the land in Peninsula, Ohio.
 
“Mark was inspired by reading Michael Pollan’s books, and that’s really where this all came from,” says Emily. “For me, my experiences at Gilmour helped me to question the world in which I live - where my food comes from, the ways in which I live - and this seemed like a way to put that questioning to practical use.”
 
In the early years of their farm life, Emily continued to work full  time as a nurse at MetroHealth, but after the births of their three children, she has stepped down to part-time work. “There are so many different responsibilities at the farm, and with a newborn I just wanted to find a way to be home more.”
 
Over the past few years, the Trapps have had to make numerous sacrifices to live this type of life. “But, really, sacrifice isn’t the right word for it. Staying close to home used to be normal.  Finding a way to invest in the soil and to develop something with your own hands means something, too.”
 
“And I don’t really think it’s about sacrifices,” says Mark. “It’s just about making choices. Emily has advanced degrees, and I have a degree from Carnegie Mellon. Many people feel the need to try  to climb the ladder in some sort of corporate sense, but we’ve chosen a different path.”
 
It’s been 10 years since the Trapps started this journey and, according to Mark, “We’re just now getting good at it. We’re both very curious people, and I think that’s key to learning and growing in life.”
 
“So much of this journey is about learning to mimic nature,” says Emily. “Finding ways to farm without some of the modern conveniences is part of the joy of this.”
 
The Trapps used to joke with each other: “We’ve got no tractor,  no barn, no water, no truck - let’s start a farm!” After 10 years,  that dream, and the Trapps’ farm, is thriving.
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An independent, Catholic, coed, day and boarding school in the Holy Cross tradition. Toddler-Grade 12.