Maple Crest Farm holds onto reins despite challenges/development

by Dan Holland

For siblings Stacey and Brant Giere, who own and operate Maple Crest Farm, located at 6530 Miller Rd., changing with the times has become a way of life in recent years.

It is the last heritage farm in Cuyahoga County – meaning that it has remained under ownership of the same family for at least 100 years.

The family, which includes their mother, Meredith, who recently retired from day-to-day operations at the full-service equine riding, driving, training and boarding facility, faced their most recent challenge by having to sell 1.5 acres of land along the eastern edge of the property last year to make way for a southbound on-ramp to I-77 from Miller Road. The action was deemed necessary to accommodate an expected increase in traffic associated with construction of the Valor Acres mixed-use commercial and residential development just to the east at Brecksville and Miller roads.

Initial plans called for the on-ramp to run directly through a farmhouse and the 1905 red barn on the property, but an agreement was reached with Brecksville city officials to move the ramp farther east. Construction work commenced in late-winter/early spring of this year. Making full use of the farm acreage for equine training has become a challenge with ongoing work at the site, Stacey Giere said.

“Typically, my training complex is the upper farm and the arena, and then down the driveway and all around the [eastern] section of the farm, but I don’t go down to that end anymore due to the construction,” she explained. “I can’t predict when the next dump truck is going to unload or when the next end loader is going to come up over the mound, which is an unpredictable factor with the horses.”

Toward the rear of the farm, which now consists of less than 20 acres, Ray Fogg Building Methods Inc. on Snowville Road, has been advertising up to 40 acres of their property, for sale. The Giere family and Fogg have had an agreement for years to use that acreage, which borders Maple Crest, for grazing in exchange for maintaining the land.

“Currently, it’s very quiet back there, and we’re fortunate to have pasture land there that we can still use for grazing,” said Stacey. “That’s an agreement that we’ve been able to keep with that family, which I’m grateful for.”

The former dairy farm, established in 1826, originally comprised 140 acres. Much of the land was lost in 1967 when the state of Ohio required the Giere family to sell a large portion of the acreage to make way for I-77. Additional acreage was sold off to make up for the loss of the dairy business, which transitioned to an agricultural and equine training farm.

A number of boarding clients did not return this year due to the construction, said Stacey, who gives around 75 riding lessons per week on the property and travels with a number of her students to out-of-state competitions. “We’ve had to pick and choose what we can do; it’s not how I would like to be running my business,” she said.

The white barn at the west end of the property, which contains horse stalls and an indoor riding ring, currently houses 10 horses owned by Stacey and another 16 owned by clients; ten fewer than two years ago.

Ultimately, the fate of the heritage farm depends on development at Valor Acres and other outside factors, said Stacey. “I think a lot of it is going to depend on what happens at Valor Acres,” she said. “There’s a future over there that’s gearing up, and with people moving into the community and businesses trickling over, some of it is a waiting game.”

“We’re going to assess the impact from this traffic, and obviously as Valor Acres develops, we’re right here at the epicenter; we’ll have to see how that plays out,” said Brant Giere. “In another couple of years, who knows? It might be a blessing or a curse, because what happens over there directly affects us. We’ve had a hundred different options to look at, but which is the right one? We’re pretty diligent and we’re under no duress right now, so we’ll do what’s best for us.” ∞

Photo: Construction at the Interstate-77 and Miller Road interchange has resulted in a loss of business for nearby Maple Crest Farm this year. Photos by D. Holland.

Photo (main): Siblings Stacey and Brent Giere say the future of their business hinges on the amount of traffic and other factors generated by the Valor Acres development, set to open in 2024.