simplicity, family and warmth at home in the Minnesota countryside
The rustic aesthetic is a concept we’re all familiar with, whether we realize it or not. That’s because it finds its roots in what is already familiar – reclamation and home. In the world of design, the term “rustic” will come paired with a qualifier: think rustic farmhouse, rustic elegance, rustic minimalism. These ideas evoke distinct imagery: gnarled wood, rich vinery, wildflowers. However, the timeless design mentality can serve any taste keyed into the connection with nature’s elements.
The rise in “vintage” events cannot be ignored, and it is no trend. As eco-friendly sensibility and the desire for a connection with the world around us is on the rise, the mindset of more traditional events can now seem stuffy and sterile. For those of us in the cities and suburbs, the desire to celebrate special moments surrounded by organic finishes and rugged texture seems like second nature.
More than just ambiance, rustic hospitality symbolizes the emotions we feel in those environments. Hosts like Dawn Voehl at Ashery Lane Farm in Mayer, Minnesota know this well. “We want our guests to feel at home at Ashery Lane Farm.” Surrounded by a 12,000-tree apple orchard, a vineyard, and even more acreage that houses sweetcorn and pumpkins, Ashery Lane Farm’s two barns (the Harvest Hall and Grand Barn) offer customizable space in a country setting just half an hour from Eden Prairie. Having both structures offers a versatility that makes event planning as comfortable as you want to feel – The Harvest Hall can accommodate fun and festive parties and get-togethers, and the larger Grand Barn offers unique elegance with “soaring ceilings, massive beams and old-world craftsmanship.”
Like many successful venues reminiscent of a gentler time, Ashery is the product of a whole family’s hard work. As symbolic as this is of the classic Midwest, there’s a modern twist to the Voehl family’s crops: “Spearheaded by our son and his volunteer work with the University of Minnesota’s grape breeding program, we planted a vineyard with two new wine grape varieties created at the University, Frontenac Blanc and Itasca. Both make outstanding white wines.” And the orchard? There are over a dozen varieties of apples, “mainly developed through the University of Minnesota’s breeding program.” As many proud Minnesotans know, we are the birthplace of the Honeycrisp apple. This, of course, bodes well for any other experimental varieties. “You can find us locally at farmers’ markets and at Excelsior Apple Days.”
How is a wholehearted – but modern – venue born? “Twelve years ago, while navigating a career change, we purchased 52 acres of prime farmland on Highway 7, with the intent of starting an apple orchard with our young family,” Voehl said. “Throughout the years, we’ve had requests to host weddings and events at our orchard. This inspired us to begin the process of renovating existing structures and adding two new barns.” Holding fast to timeless tradition, a supportive community brings it all together. “We’ve worked together, bonding with many friends and family throughout the years for countless hours to build the foundation of our orchard and vineyard.”
While the choice of hosting weddings, anniversaries, milestone parties and other events in rustic settings has been on the rise, it comes as no surprise. Barns, barrels, and burlap are symbols. The goals we have for our special occasions are the goals we have for the milestones that they symbolize: simplicity, family, and warmth.