On this page, you can learn more about the estate and its various parts. Below you will find a very brief history and an overview of the different areas of the farm.

History:

Michael Smith The Pines

The property that would eventually become Larson Farms was originally established in 1846 by Michael Smith, Esq. as “The Pines”. Although things have changed over the past one hundred and seventy years, you can see that for the most part we have kept the layout true to the original scheme. There are two entrances, but the main gate brings a drive up alongside the orginal farmhouse and then circles on to service the two barns.  The first barn dates back to the original construction in the 1840s.

Larson Farms Overview

#1 Italianate Farmhouse

Farm House 02

The farmhouse has been the cornerstone of the property since its founding. Over the years, different parts have undergone rebuilds, especially the kitchen addition and the lantern, or what is more commonly referred to as the cupola (which was torn off by tornadoes at least once that we know of). As a listed historic landmark, it is one of the few surviving buildings of the early settlement era of  northern Indiana.  After our initial purchase of the property more than thirty years ago, we did some major renovation work to add a bathroom to the second floor bedroom area, and to turn the third storey (which had been used primarily it appeared for herb drying) into a library and overflow bedroom.  More recently, attention has been focused on the outer wood and masonry elements of the central structure.

Farm House 01
Farm House 04
Farm House 03

#2 Turn of the Century Stuga

Day 283 Stuga Autumn Finished Image

At the turn of the present millennium, Ralph Clauson moved to the property to join his family and built the second house, the “Stuga”, that now sits on the eastern side of the property. Patterned on the traditional red wood and clay tile construction of Swedish farmhouses, Mr. Clauson supervised every element of the house’s design and construction, taking great pride in bringing a bit of his Scandinavian heritage to the area.

Stuga Garden 05
Stuga Garden 04
Stuga Garden 01
Stuga Garden 03

 Attached to it is a small greenhouse that we use to preserve rare plants that shouldn’t grow in northern Indiana and to get a jump start on the growing cycle of vegetables.

Day 261 Greenhouse Finished Image
Day 314 Palm finished image
Day 20 Greenhouse Finished Image

#3 Barn Structures

Barns 01

In 2015, a massive renovation effort was undertaken on the historic farmhouse and the two barns. The trim and cornice work were restored to their 19th century splendor and roofs on the house and both barns were replaced. The larger of the two barns had originally been built with part of an old chicken coop as its western wing.  This was badly rotted and needed to be removed, all of which led to a re-thinking of the design and function of the main livestock barn. Interior spaces were reconfigured, the roofline expanded to cover the original footprint on the eastern side, the western side where the coop had been completely rebuilt, and the whole structure sheathed in metal to extend its life.

This also was the obvious opportunity to remove the old silo, which had been non-functional for more than half a century, having lost its doors and a number of cement blocks. While not deemed utterly unsafe, it clearly was never going to have a useful life again. With approval from the local historic preservation commission, and enthusiasm from our contractors, the silo was dropped and much of the cement block salvaged to be re-purposed for walkways and other landscape elements on other parts of the property.

Barn Renovation 03
Barn Renovation 05
Barn Renovation 04

#4 New Orchard & Vegetable Plots

Historic Apple Tree

At some point after 1846, but certainly before 1874 when it appears in the county atlas, an apple orchard was planted in the section of the estate (#6) to the east of the farmhouse and barn complex. Nowadays, the “tree” seen above is the only apple tree that remains in the original orchard. Sadly, it’s in bad shape and shrouded in shadow. But to maintain the presence of fruit trees on the property, we have planted a new orchard of apples, pears, peaches and plums in the southwestern corner of the acreage more immediately around the farmhouse.

Orchards 04
Orchards 03
Orchards 02
Orchards 01

We also keep a modest vegetable garden in the spirit of self-sufficiency. Unlike the sheep that have the potential to become a commercial effort, the gardens are for our own use and to keep us going through the long Indiana winters!

Vegetable Garden 02
Vegetable Garden 01

#5 Northern Groves

Northern Garden 01

Ever since we took over stewardship of the property, the development of its gardens has been a major priority of ours. In the northern areas, or those close to the houses, you will find the more delicate and visually impressive specimens. Because we like to be able to see the reassuring color of green during the long winter months, we try to keep to Mr. Smith’s original “Pines” motif for the property and have planted numerous conifers around the estate.

Grove Garden 03
Grove Garden 01

#6 Southern Arbor & Pastures

Southern Garden 01

If the northern gardens are our showpieces, to the south are the more utilitarian parts of the property. Here we allow smaller plants and trees to mature before they are transplanted closer to the buildings. As the more “forested” part of the estate, this is also where our wild summer blackberries and autumn grapes grow. Finally, farthest to the south you will find the two sheep pastures where our Gotland sheep graze.

Grapes 01
Pasture
Pasture 02