Finding Peas and Quiet at the Christopher Farm and Gardens

Jay Christopher with family
Jay Christopher with his two daughters, Julie and Kelley, and his four grandchildren.

In 1997, Jay Christopher began developing a former horse and dairy farm into a magical 500-acre expanse of green space dedicated to bringing together horticulture, landscape design, education, and the arts. Featuring 17 themed gardens and orchards, 5 miles of walking paths, 6,000 feet of Lake Michigan beach, a children’s educational farm, and even an amusement park-style train, the farm is visited by groups of all ages and is also utilized for ecotherapy treatment programs. It is a place for learning, enjoyment, and healing.

Jay is a Trustee of the Christopher Family Foundation, but he also holds a much more important title: Grandpa. Recently, Jay sat down with one of his four grandchildren, Sam (age 11), to talk about his labor of love, the Christopher Farm and Gardens.

Sam: Why is it important to you that the community get to come to the farm?

Grandpa: It is very educational. They get to see nature at its fullest. They also get to see the lake. They can see nature building and can learn about the animals in Wisconsin. They can also garden. They can see a variety of different historical things in Wisconsin.

Sam: Are there groups you’re especially interested in, that you want to see here?

Grandpa: We have a group who are cancer survivors. They come here to do all sorts of outdoor activities. Another group is all of the school groups. They can see the farm. We have lots of different people. It is fun to see them have fun on the farm.

Sam: How does time in nature benefit them, and why does that matter to you?

Grandpa: Well, 1) they can get exercise, 2) it is very relaxing and they don’t have to hear the big trucks, 3) they can bring their dogs here, and 4) the educational part of it all. They also enjoy it. There are so many different ways to go around the farm.