A horse lover’s legacy nourishes the community and provides an elegant home for events

In the 1930s, Mary Stephenson ran a farm in the heart of Indian Hill. A well-known equestrian, Stephenson christened the manor house centered on the property “The Meshewa House,” Meshewa being the Shawnee word for horse.

During WWII, Stephenson did her best to be self-sufficient. She lived off the land and tried not to rely on community rations. Her mindset at the time — sustainable independence through stewardship of the land — continues today. The property, which incorporated neighboring farmlands in the 1990s, is now known as Turner Farm.

A multi-faceted organization focused on organic farming, healthy food preparation, and teaching, Turner Farm is the area’s largest organic farm. Over the years, by partnering with local doctors, the staff of Turner Farm has developed programs focused on helping the community form healthy relationships with food through mindful production and preparation. In addition, courses educating medical students and nutritionists on healthy diets are offered, arming practitioners in the quest to spread the message of integrated, preventative wellness.

“We’re very involved in the health and wellness ‘space,’” says Robert Edmiston, executive director of Turner Farm. “And we also believe that the first step to wellness is what you put in your mouth.”

Edmiston explains that the teaching aspect offered by Turner Farm is extremely important because much of modern society has found itself removed not only from the process of growing food, but also of preparing it.

“It’s one thing to come out of the fields with an handful of wonderful produce, but many people don’t know what to do with that,” he says.

In the wake of the Turner Farm’s success, Stephenson’s beloved Meshewa House is finally being revitalized. Following a multi-million dollar renovation, it will assume its rightful place as the crown jewel of the estate. Similarly to the much-lauded farmland and teaching kitchen on the property, The Meshewa House will serve many purposes and become an asset to the community.

“In 2016, we began reflecting about what to do with this elegant, old manor house sitting in the heart of our organic farm,” Edmiston says. “We felt that it should be a ‘destination’ that the entire community could use and enjoy, and have available as a local resource.”

Edmiston served as counsel to Mary Stephenson’s granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth (“Bonnie”) Mitsui, for many years, until her death in 2013. When Mitsui initially took possession of the property in 1993, it was clear that she had inherited her grandmother’s resourcefulness. But Mitsui wished to go beyond self-sufficiency and support the local community through utilization of the land.

The beautifully restored Meshewa House will offer a picturesque location for business retreats, weddings, showers, and receptions. Events will feature delicious, freshly prepared meals catered by Turner Farm. Boasting a seating capacity of up to 250 with the addition of tents, the venue will be suited for large-scale corporate events as well — all offered within a graceful setting that recalls a simpler time from a bygone era.

As a founding member of the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, Turner Farm will serve as host to the conglomerate’s annual conference, set to take place at The Meshewa House September 23rd and 24th. Nearly forty national and international organizations will be represented at the event, including Barilla Pasta, the Cleveland Clinic, and Google.

The Meshewa house will also host a black-tie grand opening event benefiting the Director’s Chair of the University of Cincinnati Center for Integrative Health and Wellness on Saturday, September 7th. The fundraiser, “A Night of Celebration in Honor of Dr. John and Susan Tew,” is being held in honor of Turner Farm’s good friends and, at $500 per ticket, has already sold out, according to Edmiston.

Read more articles by Eliza Bobonick.

Eliza Bobonick is a Cincinnati-based writer and a mother of three. Her work has been featured in such local and regional publications as Cincinnati CityBeat and Kentucky Homes and Gardens Magazine. She is a former musician whose interests include photography and interior design.

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