Boo Martin never really saw the Temple property that’s been in her family for 55 years as anything other than a horse farm.
But last year she started to think about the future of the property after being unable to reach an agreement to sell the property to Touchstone Farm. And when she took a step back and gave more thought to the possibilities, Martin almost immediately had a vision.
On Saturday, Martin officially opened Stepping Stones Farm & Event Center and as she sees it, the potential for what can take place at the property presents a wide array of possibilities.
“I love people, I love parties and I love celebrating good things,” Martin said. “And this property is perfect for that.”
The first thing that comes to mind is weddings and with both indoor and outdoor spaces available for ceremonies and receptions, Martin plans to host quite a few of them in the years to come. From a small one-day winter wedding to an extravagant bash that spans the entire weekend – when COVID-19 restrictions are not in place – Martin understands the importance of offering the opportunity for any size gathering.
While weddings are going to be a part of what Stepping Stones does, Martin only anticipates up to eight per year, which leaves a lot of open dates on the calendar. But she expects to fill them with a variety of gatherings that she hopes will fill the needs of many. Those include family reunions for the holidays, birthday or anniversary parties or getaways with old friends.
“That’s really the bottom line, the ability to customize the facility to what people want,” Martin said. “The business model is set up in a way to really offer a beautiful space for a variety of different events.”
Martin also envisions Stepping Stones as the ideal setting for renewal and rejuvenation, a place to focus on physical wellness, emotional health or spiritual growth through retreats and workshops.
And with so many businesses and companies working remotely these days, Martin sees the event center as the perfect place to have a socially distanced retirement party or company get together. She even hopes to offer concerts in the future.
“I think it can be used for anything,” Martin said. “People can really make their own event special.”
But Martin knows she can’t do this alone, which is why she has partnered with locals in the hotel industry, catering, wellness realm and more to be able to adapt and offer just about any service a potential client is looking for.
“The team really allows for it to be so customizable,” she said. “So the event partners are really the coolest part of it.”
The main lodge can sleep up to 25, allowing for weekend events to stay on site and with her brother Randy’s Timberdoodle Club close by and the Birchwood Inn not far either, there’s lodging opportunities for up to 50 within four miles.
There’s a fire pit and large porch complete with rocking chairs to enjoy the farm’s surroundings. In addition to the lodge, there’s the three-story barn, which will be used for a fashion show in October, and the indoor arena.
“There’s so many uses for it,” she said. “I do think the options are so flexible.”
The property dates back to 1754 and Martin’s parents purchased it in 1965. Ten years later, she took it over and by that point she had already started Pony Farm, adding Horse Power into the mix a number of years later. The merger of those two programs in 2011 created Touchstone Farm, which Martin served as executive director of until 2017.
The plan was always to sell the property to the nonprofit, but in the end a deal could not be reached.
Keeping with the history of the property, Martin plans to add some horses to the property next year to offer horse drawn carriage rides for a bride or onsite trail rides as an activity, but the teaching aspect is something she will leave for Touchstone to continue at their new property.
“There will be horses, but there will be a lot less,” she said.
Because of COVID-19, Martin said she was able to really take a deep dive into researching the event industry and do a thorough market analysis to be as best prepared for opening.
And now that Stepping Stones is open, Martin can’t wait to see what kind of celebrations are in store.
For more, visit https://www.steppingstoneseventcenter.com/.