If you’re trying to get a hold of Lauriejane Kelley, you won’t catch her by phone. You may even miss her at home. Where you will find her is in the garden at Steeplebush Farm Herbs.
Lauriejane is a purveyor of flowers and uncommon herbs used for healing and in the kitchen. She had been organic gardening for years when she left her subdivision and headed for farm life in Limington, Maine, in 1984. That same year she hurriedly cleaned up the 35-acre farm (with some help from her small flock of sheep), cleared out an outhouse and opened a nursery and gift shop.
They were humble beginnings, to say the least.
“I would pray someone would come up the driveway at least one to three times a week,” Lauriejane recalls.
Things have changed over the years. For example, the outhouse is gone. Instead, the farm boasts a two-story greenhouse and a new gift shop built by Lauriejane’s husband.
Every fall, on Veteran’s Day weekend, Steeplebush hosts a three-day open house as part of The Snowflake Trail, a progressive-style shopping experience featuring a dozen small businesses in the area. At Steeplebush the barn transforms into a fantastic retail space featuring wreaths, handwork and one-of-a-kind items made by Lauriejane and other artisans. In the greenhouse visitors may find quilters, woodcarvers, jewelry makers and basket weavers working on their designs and answering questions.
Before the shop closes in December there’s plenty to do. Lauriejane shows visitors how to spruce up their holidays with birdhouses made with all-natural gingerbread bases and decorated with birdseed and wheat roofs. Or, how to make a centerpiece with dried fruit, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks.
Downtime through May gives Lauriejane a break to focus on Steeplebush’s own line of lotions, liquid soaps, lip balm, teas and cooking oils. In fact, everything sold at Steeplebush is handmade. Lauriejane supports the local economy, evidenced by the items in her gift shop.
So when she came across LooHoo Wool Dryer Balls at a trade show two years ago, she was thrilled to discover they were made in Maine.
“I had been carrying wool dryer balls but they had no packaging; I had to package them myself,” Lauriejane says. “LooHoo’s packaging is exquisite—it explains what the product is. They are great quality and have a great sense of color.”
After the snow melts and spring arrives, the farm is aflutter with activity. Vibrant heliotrope and fragrant jasmine bloom. Sucker trees are trimmed. The raised beds are cleaned out.
These days Steeplebush attracts a steady stream of visitors. While some come for landscaping ideas or planting tips, Lauriejane also welcomes anyone who simply wants to meander through the property.
“I really want people to feel it is worth the trip to come out to the farm,” she says. “I love sharing with people and am always willing to answer questions.”
For more information about the shop and farm, visit steeplebush.com.
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