When I moved to Door County after college, it wasn't meant to be permanent. It was a simple short-term solution to, "Where can I go after college? I'm so sick of the city." Milwaukee had treated me well for the past four years, but noisy traffic and littered sidewalks left me feeling a little drained. So my close friend, Mackenzie, hooked me up with a job and a room to rent in Fish Creek, and off I went to spend what was meant to be three months living at Camp David (which I assure you is not technically a commune), home to Fishstock Music Series, and hiking at Peninsula State Park.
Door County was never a place I vacationed as a child, so it was something of a mystery to me. But Mackenzie assured me that it would be a welcome break from the urban scene, and though I may find myself somewhat overworked, my soul would be nourished by friendly folks, fresh Lake Michigan air and plenty of trails through the woods.
It was at Camp David that I fell in love with gardening. We had (and they still have) a community style veggie garden tended by Camp David's 18-or-so summer renters. I was in charge of the tomatoes that summer, and I can still remember lying in my breezy second-floor farmhouse bedroom, staring at the stars through the open window, sniffing my green-stained fingers and thinking that Mackenzie had read me totally right.
Now that was over six years ago, and I'm still gardening, though on a larger scale and with more responsibility, and I'm still in Door County.
People often ask what it's like to live here year-round. They wonder if it's hard to make a life up here. The short answer is: yes and no.
It's challenging because work is so often seasonal. Business is generally focused around tourism, so people often make their money in the summer. That means it's work hard/play hard for the warmer months. That was part of the reason for a switch from growing veggies to growing flowers. Not that veggies aren't entirely useful. But being a flower farmer and florist allows me to embrace Door County as a wedding and event destination.
Door County is also one of the easiest places to live that I've ever called home. And the reason for that is nature and community. It's a given that you can easily spend time outdoors on the peninsula. But the solid year-round community is maybe something that an outsider looking in might not fully understand. Door County is home to some truly solid and well-meaning folks. The kind that will drive 45 minutes north after their full day of work to help you burn your field for planting. The kind that will spend an entire day digging holes in what seems like pure limestone (AKA typical Door County soil) and never stop smiling. The kind that will lend you their wheel hoe today even though you broke their shovel yesterday. And they won't charge you much if anything at all, maybe a beer or a bouquet. And seriously, those examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
Door County is a perfect place to call home. I've never felt this content anywhere else. And I feel so fortunate to have become a farmer-florist here.