Paul and Marisa Maggio, owners of Starry Nights organic farm on Highway KD in Wheatland, are welcoming people to stay with them and experience life on the 140-acre farm.
“We hope to provide a place for people to slow down, disconnect and plug into nature,” Paul said.
For select weekends this summer, the couple is offering overnight stays in a private, one-bedroom apartment with a patio that overlooks the pasture.
Marisa said guests “can dive into farm life as much or as little” as they are comfortable and their experience will be determined by their “own pace, rhythm and interests. For some, that could mean helping with chores and for others it could be just going for a walk in the pastures to see the cows.
The apartment is located in the lower level of the couple’s newly constructed, net zero energy, modern farmhouse – built on the same footprint as the historic home it replaces, with salvaged materials incorporated throughout. The apartment can sleep five comfortably and has a large kitchen.
Guests will have all the comforts of home — except, purposely, a television. Instead, they will find a cupboard filled with board games and a classic Donkey Kong arcade game. The property is also adjacent to Veterans Memorial Park, which has a small fishing lake and hiking trails.
A farm tour Saturday morning to see cows, pigs, guinea fowl and chicken in pasture, dinner that evening, and s’mores by the fire are included in the stay.
Paul, a native of Kenosha, said he hopes people who stay at Starry Nights — the first Certified Organic and Certified Animal Welfare approved farm in Kenosha County — gain an understanding of what goes into raising the animals in a sustainable manner.
The Certified Animal Welfare and Certified Grass Fed approvals from A Greener World guarantee the steers are raised outdoors on pasture for their entire lives on an independent farm using sustainable, high-welfare farming practices. It is the only label in the U.S. to require audited, high-welfare production, transport and slaughter practices.
Trained auditors visit every farm in the program at least once a year to verify they’re meeting the standards. The certification is free to farmers, assuring the program auditors remain impartial.
Paul said he believes the animal welfare approval is just as important as the organic certification.
“While certified organic animals will be chemical free and non-GMO, their living conditions can be compromised,” he said.
The couple plans to expand the overnight stays into fall and winter. The farm has room for cross country skiing and hills for sledding, and is in close proximity to Wilmot Mountain.
Marisa also plans to offer cooking and health and wellness classes.
IN PHOTOS: Sunflowers in bloom
Sunflowers are in bloom at Thompson’s Strawberry Farm on Highway 50 in Bristol, and are visible to motorists traveling west on Highway 50, some of whom arrived by the carload this weekend. Here are some photos, along with some sunflower shots we liked from elsewhere.