by Cori Hilsgen
Rocky Acres, north of St. Joseph, recently hosted works of eight artists during its “Summer Arts on the Farm.”
Artists who displayed their crafts included Carol Spychala with watercolor paintings, greeting cards, cement garden art and glass garden art; Karen Adams and Nadine Nelson – Eklektik Kollektibles – with metal jewelry and wood-turned pens; Judy Schlief with painted greeting cards, scarves and necklaces; Mary Lynne Goenner with Scentsy candles; Sue Peschl with decorative glazed-glass containers and jewelry; and Anna Bleess-Lahr with her stained glass and jewelry on display for sale.
Mary Jo Huls also displayed her old time barn/silo greeting cards but did not attend the event.
The two-day event offered visitors a chance to see and purchase the various artists’ creations, including garden metal floral art and refurbished junkables, home-farmed honey, samples from “Anna’s Wedding Cakes,” container gardens, succulents and other plants.
Visitors took self-guided garden tours, which offered a chance to sit in the Old Log Cabin or the gazebo and to explore the many-themed gardens, including a farmer’s garden with a cupola, fairy garden, children’s garden with vintage toys, succulents gardens and others.
Owners Jerry and Anna Bleess-Lahr are hoping more people will want to spend time in their gardens.
The Lahrs own 40 acres of property next to Jerry’s childhood home. It’s a working farm and includes cattle, fainting goats, peacocks, guinea chickens and two cats.
Anna operates a licensed home bakery called “Anna’s Wedding Cakes” on the property.
When the couple married five years ago, Jerry gave his third “Harley” garage stall to Anna to operate a home bakery. Anna, a retired nurse, previously owned a coffee shop in Mankato.
“I have had a licensed home bakery since 1989,” Anna said.
The gardens are part of the Lahr’s semi-retired adventures. They have a vision and hope people will come to Rocky Acres to enjoy a country retreat-like experience.
“It would be almost a sin not to share it,” Anna said.
“It’s like a small-scale ‘Munsinger Gardens,’” Spychala said.
She said the event was well attended by interested buyers and said she wanted people to know what a beautiful place the Lahrs have.
The garden tours include a chance to sit in the Garden Cafe in the Old Log Cabin and sample some of Anna’s pastries and Jerry’s home-farmed honey.
Jerry moved the Old Log Cabin from the Anton’s restaurant property in Waite Park. They replaced the old floor and restored the cabin. Anna furnished it with a pastry cupboard that she got from her aunt and uncle and had previously used in her Mankato coffee shop called “Anna’s Pastry Cupboard.” The Lahrs plan to set up a partial boutique and sell arts and craft items in the cabin.
“Our intent is to have intimate little gatherings,” Anna said. “If someone would want to celebrate a birthday or two women would want a girlfriend date or maybe somebody just by themself would want to come out and enjoy the gardens. It would be by reservation and I could have pastries prepared. They could enjoy it in the cabin or pick out a seating area outside in the gardens. They could have a little country retreat.”
Besides her cakes and pastries, Anna creates stained-glass works of art and jewelry and nurtures succulents and other plants in her greenhouse.
Jerry creates metal floral art and refurbishes junkables and vintage antiques into sculptures. He also tends to his bees to create his home-farmed honey.
The Lahrs use a lot of old refurbished items for their gardens. They accept orders for their creations.
The Lahrs require reservations for garden tours. Currently, they do not charge a fee to enjoy the gardens and Old Log Cabin, but donations are accepted. Rocky Acres is located at 35282 CR 2, St. Joseph. Their telephone number is 320-259-8282.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.