By Carla Minsky
Low Lying Fruit
Next time you’re in Bayfield, get your fruit fix. There’s Apple Hill Orchard, where you can load up on sweet cherries, apples, plums and pears, along with caramel apples and apple pies. Also in Bayfield – Erickson's Orchard, family owned by Jim and Muriel Erickson since 1954. In fact, Jim is said to have been one of the “instigators” of the Bayfield Apple Festival, which is held the first weekend in October. Along with a half-dozen apple varieties (the Honey Crisp variety is irresistible, and there are also old varieties like Wealthy and Transparent), pears and strawberries in season, they have a nifty country store that carries homemade jams and jellies made with natural ingredients and no artificial flavors or preservatives. You mustn’t leave without experiencing their fresh apple cider donuts. “We found the apple cider gave the donuts a very distinctive flavor and people liked them, and we make them using our own pasteurized cider,” said Muriel. Both places use rain water runoff for irrigation and a pest management system that cuts down on the need for pesticides.
Authentic Farm B&Bs
It’s a farm, it’s a B&B, it’s both. Rainbow Ridge Farms Bed and Breakfast in Onalaska is situated on 35 acres with plenty of friendly critters to greet you on your hike around the grounds, including goats, llamas, sheep, chickens and ducks. Pitch in with your breakfast by collecting eggs, then enjoy your morning meal served on Amish-made oak tables. The food philosophy here is buy fresh, buy local. It should also be said the goats are a big draw. “I have guests who get up at 5 a.m. to help me milk the goats,” said innkeeper Cindy Hoehne. There’s even a link on the inn’s web site that’s particularly charming called “baby due dates.” Seems they had lots of requests from guests who wanted to witness goats giving birth, thus the “kidding dates.” While you will not actually help with the delivery, the owners will be happy to place a wiggling baby goat in your arms.
Accommodations at the Trillium Cottage B&B in La Farge include two cottages on this working family organic farm. The owners, Noah and Kelly Swanson, harvest organic hay each summer and raise a mixed brood of animals. Three generations of the Swansons live here, sharing farm life with their guests. As they tell it, fewer people have relatives on farms and this is an opportunity to share the rural life with others. The breakfast is clearly a favorite with guests – homemade breads made from scratch, local dairy products like cheese and butter, farm eggs and other tasty morning treats delivered right to your cottage.
May I See a Menu Please?
The Osthoff Resort, a AAA Four Diamond hotel located on the shores of one of the purest lakes in Wisconsin, Elkhart Lake, is serving up some incredibly delicious meals at its three restaurants – fancy Lola’s on the Lake, laid-back Otto’s, and the good-for-you Aspira Spa Café – all incorporating ingredients from local farmers and the resort’s own organic garden. There’s even a class at their French cooking school during which participants take a stroll to the local farmers’ market to select ingredients for the dishes they’ll prepare. Wear off the calories by renting a mountain bike or tandem supplied by the resort.
Finally, back in Bayfield, Big Water Café and Coffee Roasters does an amazing job of sourcing local, organic and fair trade food products, like eggs, for example, which come from nearby Angel Acres Farm. Try the Dockside Burrito, made with two eggs, veggies and locally sourced pork chorizo – the chorizo gives it a little kick. Owner Danielle Ewalt pointed out that, in addition to supporting local suppliers, “fresh, local ingredients just taste better, so it’s a win-win.” Added bonus for those who walk the eco walk – you’ll receive a discount when you bring your own cup for the to-go coffee. You might also like to know all their milk is sourced locally and, being a combo café and coffee shop, they go through a lot of it.
Check out more edible travel green ideas.