ROCKPORT—Farmer Mary Nelson née Clayton and her husband, Tom, recently bought the nearly 40-year-old Cardinal Cove Mini Golf Center and an adjacent house with big plans for its future.
The first floor of the house, on Commercial Street in Rockport, which used to be an arcade, has turned into a small retail space for Nelson’s natural-made products called Bee Wild Farmacy. She just held her grand opening Sunday, November 21.
Having grown up in Rockland, Nelson moved to central New York for a decade to run a pastured meat farm. Now back in Maine, she has her sights set on charting a different course with her husband while still using all of the skills she’d acquired as a farmer—a golf course, that is.
The mini-golf course, where Nelson remembers playing as a nine-year-old child, will remain the same—with a natural twist.
“I’ve always been fascinated with wild plants and foraging,” she said. “ I grow a lot of edible, medicinal, and culinary plants, so the spaces in between the golf course will be landscaped with those types of plants with signs identifying their uses.”
The picnic tables in the center of the golf course function as an agritourism open-air workshop space.
“We did a natural dyes workshop in that space this past summer,” she said, “And we’ll be hosting more classes and events like that in the future.”
In addition, she and her husband plan to put a couple of campers on the property as rentals.
“The plan is to offer an agritourism center with a mini-golf course right in the middle of it,” said Nelson. “It’s a little bit of everything—you know, it’s Maine; everyone’s got to hustle.”
Did you know?
Farm-raised eggs do not have to be refrigerated.
“Chickens lay eggs with this natural coating called the ‘bloom’,” said Nelson. “It keeps bacteria out of the egg, which will stay fresh at room temperature.”
Every item in her shop is made by Nelson under the brand Bee Wild. In addition to raising chickens and selling the eggs on-site, she’s also a beekeeper and makes numerous products such as herbal teas, balms, salves, elixirs, and tinctures with her foraged products and natural honey. Hand-knit items, made also by Nelson, are available.
“I forage as many ingredients as I can or they are grown,” she said.
As she still owns the farm in central New York, with two markets in New York still run by her business partner, and is now operating Bee Wild Farmacy full-time, and with eight children between Nelson and her husband, she said she is trying to be cautious about not over-extending herself.
“My husband says when I die, my tombstone will read, ‘I have another idea!’”
The Bee Wild Farmacy at 773 Commercial Street in Rockport, will be open year-round. Through winter, hours will be Monday through Friday, 10 a.m to 2 p.m. daily. Evenings, weekends and off-hours are available in person. Online orders, shipping, and local delivery are also options. Visit: www.beewild.me
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org