Eric Carlson and Ellen Kwiatowski are the owners of the Blue Vista farm in Bayfield, Wisconsin. They say this: "This land is more than just fruit and flower plantings, a beautiful old barn and remarkable view. Something unexplainable comes together in this spot to create an unforgettable experience. Over and over again, customers tell us that they feel like they are in heaven and we feel that way as well. We consider ourselves privileged to be caretakers of this land and we want to share it with you." It can't be said any better.
September 26, 2007
We recently visited and explored the Bayfield Peninsula, staging out of Bayfield. We spent a day exploring the small bays on the peninsula, from Bayfield around to Cornucopia, and then set a course into the interior to "escape and evade" back to Bayfield for some brewskis and dinner.
On the way back to Bayfield, we came upon a place with a nice sign out front announcing that it was "Blue Vista Farm," and saying it grew blueberries, raspberries and the whole nine yards. We were a bit tired, and the driver was thirsty, but we didn't know when we'd be back, so we decided to drive in and look around. Wow, were we happy we stopped!
The farm's web site invites you to "Come to Blue Vista where you can experience a taste of heaven." That is for sure, and we would add, get a taste of what heaven in Wisconsin might look like.
This is a Mapquest aerial shot, looking northward. The east-west road is Bayfield CH J, and the north-south road intersecting on the left side of the photo is Hatchery Road. Bayfield is just a mile or so to the east on CH J and then north just a bit on Hwy 13.
In the aerial, you can see nice rows of "things", and just left of center and down a bit, you can see what is a barn converted to a store. But wait until you see what all this looks like at ground level --- yes indeed, the taste and look of heaven.
Let's start at the barn.
You can see a nice patio outside, where people can relax and look at the incredible vista.
This is the entry into the barn which now serves as a retail outlet. We do want to point out the black and brass plate to the left of the door. It tells you that the farm has been preserved forever by the Carlson Family and the Town of Bayfield, the Bayfield Regional Conservancy, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2003.
We've learned from Blue Vista's web site what this means:
"During these days of burgeoning large scale factory farms, the small, sustainable local farms are becoming more and more of a rarity. Because we firmly believe that small farms and locally produced food are critical for the ecological, economic, and personal health and viability of our communities, we have sold the development rights to our farm to the Bayfield Regional Conservancy and the Town of Bayfield, resulting in a place that is permanently protected from development. Blue Vista Farm will always be a farm."
Their web site explains the farm's history, and we don't want to replicate what they have already described. We would, however, like to show you the photography we took of the farm. By the time we got here, it clouded over. The photos would have been more spectacular if the sun would have been out, but we go with the flow. The pictures are still pretty "heavenly."
We'll give you two views of the inside of the store.
You are welcome to pick your own raspberries, blueberries, they'll provide you cooler service if you are a tourist and need to store your bounty somewhere, and they have fresh cut flowers available. They also have an assortment of home-made jellies, jams and preserves.
As you might expect, Blue Vista also sells neat "stuff" that is interesting and in keeping with the artsy flavor of the Bayfield Peninsula's eastern shore.
But it's outside that makes you wild about being alive.
We'll show three photos that have the barn in them to give you a nice sense for the beautiful country surrounding the farm.
This was taken from a wide path in the midst of the fruit growing rows.
Here, we have walked up one of the fruit rows. If memory serves, these were mostly blueberry plants. They had been pretty well picked and we had to hurry back to the store and grab what they had on the shelves for munching. It was only a couple miles back to Bayfield from here, and my wife and I polished off our procurement before getting to the hotel!
We've swung the camera a bit to the left in order to get a good glimpse of the ridge. The ridge is important because it defines the end of the Lake Superior Lowlands Geographic Province, a slice of the coastline, and the Northern Highland Geographic Province. We had a lot of fun watching those ridges in the background as we drove home from Cornucopia on the northern shore. If you look closely at our map of the geographic provinces, you can see that the Nothern Highlands Province extends well into the Bayfield Peninsula.
For this photo, we simply repeated a swivel to the left, now looking south. You can see a bit of Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior. You get a similar view when you sit on the patio next to the barn. Awesome and humbling beauty. In the immediate foreground, on both sides of the pathway, are apple trees. Blue Vista grows and sells quite a variety of apples.
Blue Vista marks each row in the orchards of apples so you know what variety you're looking at, in this case, Redfree.
A bit of a closer look.
Not sure of the variety, but look how wonderfully these apples are nestled among and cradled by the leaves and branches.
We'll next show you a few close-ups of the blueberries and raspberries. Your rookie photographer must admit to being enthralled as he had never seen such crops growing naturally, the poor city boy.
The blueberries have an interesting rosy color prior to ripening.
Do those blueberries look fantastic, or what?
As we mentioned earlier, most of the raspberries had been picked, so we had a hard time finding some. But we caught these beautiful rascals.
Pumpkin? Whatever she was, she was big and hidden in the grasses below what looked like squash variety leaves.
One could spend a lot of time wandering up and down these rows. One could spend an equal time admiring the many flowers in the garden. We'll present some photos.
We now have a little story to tell related to this group of flowers. Blue Vista had one, perhaps two fairly long rows of this variety. They were absolutely a-buzz with hummingbirds. Your rookie photographer chased these little guys around until blue in the face. Every time I zeroed in on the little pipsqueaks, they'd move. They flew around at Mach five, would stop on a dime, stay for a second or two, and then shoot off somewhere else. Conservatively, there were 20-50, maybe more, and gthey would sometimes fly off in formation. I caught a few, but the photos are not terrific. I'm going to show them anyway, simply because I worked so hard to get even these.
Let's zoomer on these little you-know-whats.
Eric Carlson and Ellen Kwiatowski are the owners. This is what they say:
"This land is more than just fruit and flower plantings, a beautiful old barn and remarkable view. Something unexplainable comes together in this spot to create an unforgettable experience. Over and over again, customers tell us that they feel like they are in heaven and we feel that way as well. We consider ourselves privileged to be caretakers of this land and we want to share it with you."