Beyond its green-gated entrance, Bird Haven Farm seems just as pastoral and welcoming as it might have been 200 years ago.
The sprawling Pottersville property began with an unassuming stone cottage built in 1816, followed by the addition of barns in the mid-19th century. The name Bird Haven Farm is the original moniker, coined by former lady of the house and publisher Harriet Stratemeyer Adams.
Current owners and bon vivants Janet Mavec and Wayne Nordberg spend many an hour tending the rustic Hunterdon County estate, as their four canines roam the 75-plus-acre parcel, darting among the century-old apple orchard and the flourishing vegetable and flower gardens.
The family purchased the residence in 1982 and added a contemporary home and guesthouse in the 1990s. The property’s master plan, which includes a reflecting pool and a party-perfect courtyard, was hatched by the couple with the help of Spanish landscape designer Fernando Caruncho in 2002. Organic veggie and perennial gardens, along with a monastery garden, were envisioned by designer Lisa Stamm.
“I grow things I like to eat,” Mavec says. Apples, pears, plums, blackberries, kale, zucchini, beans, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, onions and herbs all have a place on her dinner table.
Nowadays, Mavec, a jewelry designer who previously operated a luxe boutique in Manhattan, draws her inspiration from her surroundings as she creates 18-karat-gold-plated brass necklaces, bracelets and earrings in the shapes of fruits, vegetables, leaves, birds and natural elements found at the farm.
Nordberg, an economist, also enjoys gardening, but limits his green-thumb activities to the tomato and pepper patches. “Although we’re married, we occupy separate beds in the vegetable garden,” says Mavec with a smile. “Wayne and I enjoy cooking together. We make soups, and I put up jam, chutney, applesauce and pickles.”
The couple entertains often, assembling uncomplicated tablescapes with an eclectic mix from their collection of fine linen and china, punctuated with simple found objects. “It’s important to make an effort to present things beautifully, but it doesn’t have to be fancy or fussy,” says Mavec. “I particularly appreciate the time-worn patina of antiques.” Case in point: When Mavec discovered a mishmash of tarnished garden tools squirreled away in her barn, she turned them into an outdoor wall sculpture rather than relegating them to a landfill.
“I have always loved beautiful, organic things,” Mavec says. “Even in crafting my jewelry, I channel the essence of the garden in celebration of our farm’s spirit.”
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