For nearly nine years I have called Boone County Illinois home. We are a tiny county on the northern border of the state; a modest three hundred square miles of agrarian land. But nestled here and there among the fields and modest forests are unexpected gems that make this land a special place to spend a day or a lifetime.
I have written often about the Midwest as a place that consistently offers delightfully expected discovery. I learned this from Boone County. Its nestled places have made me curious and taught me not to take open fields and unassuming land for granted. And living here has taught me a mindful appreciation for the seasons, for a life molded dramatically by the path of the calendar; a calendar that guides our discovery and our experience of this place.
Please join me today for a tour of this lovely place. You won’t find all of its gems among the following photos, but hopefully they will capture the essence of this land and invite you to be a curious resident of the land in which you dwell.
Windridge Herb Farm, a certified Naturally Grown Farm in Caledonia; offering seasonal herbs, natural products, garden tours and events in an idyllic setting.
Angelic Organics, and organic Community Supported Agriculture farm in Caledonia. This is just about one of the lovelies places I have ever been; an organic farm with a decidedly artistic flair. The farm is also home to a serene community loft space, available for shareholders, and the Learning Center an educationally focused non-profit that offers activities and workshops for all ages. More of my reflections, here.
The Rodger D. Gustafson Nature Center in Belvidere, a sweet little spot that also houses the offices of the Boone County Conservation District. The surrounding grounds are home to a number of interpretive gardens and historic buildings.
Second Hand Rose, in Poplar Grove, features antiques, vintage decor and gift items inspired by both. It is a lovely little spot that always offers a feast for the senses.
Poplar Grove Vintage Wings and Wheels Museum, located adjacent to the Poplar Grove Airport, is home to an impressive collection of vintage aircraft, artifacts and historic auto related buildings.
The seasonal farm stands are my personal favorite, when they start popping up it is a sure sign of high summer and delicious eating. I enjoy them so much I shared a post dedicated just to them, here.
The Brick Cafe and Gallery in Belvidere. It is that local spot that offers the perfect balance of curiosity and comfort. More , here.
Dawson River Road School, a stop on the interpretive trail in the Spencer Conservation Area. Located adjacent to the Kishwaukee Rover the grounds are home to more than three miles of nature trails and was the historic location of the first Boone County Fair Grounds.
Lisa's Farm Market in Poplar Grove, the goodness of a farm stand, spring through fall.
McEachran Homestead Winery is beautifully sited on a sesquicentennial farm in Caledonia. The farm and winery are owned by the great great grandson of John McEachran who homesteaded the land in 1857. Nestled in the rolling countryside of northern Boone County, the winery is an idyllic spot not to be missed.
The Long Prairie Trail, fourteen miles of paved trail that follows the path of the old Kenosha Division Line railroad bed. It traverses woodlands, farmlands and native prairie and passes through the towns of Capron, Poplar Grove and Caledonia. Maintained by the Boone County Conservation District, it provides an immersive experience in the natural landscape. And no motorized vehicles!
The Poplar Grove Airport (historically Belvidere Airport, C77), was founded in 1972 by pioneer decendent Dick Thomas on a tract of farmland. The airport is now home to over 400 general aviation aircraft, a nationally recognized aircraft maintenance facility, a museum campus and a residential fly-in community. You can learn to fly or just watch vintage airplanes soar overhead.
Rags to Vintage, more vintage goodness in Poplar Grove
Boone County Conservation District, operates and maintains twenty-five natural conservation areas, the Long Prairie Trail and the Rodger D. Gustafson Nature Center, providing public access to the beautiful natural landscape.
Edwards Apple Orchard, is that place that speaks the essence of autumn atmosphere and festivity. Located in Poplar Grove and open late summer through Thanksgiving, they have been a gathering place for family and friends since 1964. More reflection, here.
Windridge Herb Farm
Little Free Library at the Poplar Grove Village Hall, who doesn't love a little library!
Edwards Apple Orchard
P.S. If I missed your favorite please share it in the comments below, I would love to add it to the tour.