A Sweet Taste of Farm Life on the Southern Mendocino Coast
Pulling up the gravel drive to Mar Vista Farm + Cottages, everything was bathed in a hazy golden light. Chickens meandered along the edges of the grass. Garden blooms swayed in the breeze. Around the perimeter of a wide meadow, cheery vintage cottages were nestled here and there, backed by a forest of redwood and pine.
The working farm sits on nine bucolic acres off Highway 1 along a secluded, magical stretch of coastline I had never visited before. A little over three hours north of San Francisco, it lies between Sea Ranch and Point Arena in southern Mendocino County.
Mar Vista’s cottages were originally built in the 1930s by Louis Kovacs and Ramus Eschen Eriksen, who rented them out to visiting fishermen. Kovacs and Eriksen raised chickens, grew vegetables, and maintained a small orchard on the property. Among the locals, they were known for their beautiful flower gardens. They later upgraded the cottages for vacationing families.
The property changed hands a few times over the years before Cab and Deanna Boettcher became the stewards of Mar Vista in 2020. Building upon the legacy of the farm and cottages, they have created a place for travelers to slow down, savor a simpler way of life, forge stronger connections with nature, and replenish the soul.
After the long drive along Highway 1, getting out of the car was like a cleansing exhale. The air was light and crisp with a tinge of salt from the sea. The meadows, the gardens, the trees, and the cottages glowed in the sunlight. Across the road, the deep blue of the ocean extended far into the horizon.
Cab emerged from the red welcome cottage to greet me. With the presence of someone entirely at ease, he shared the lay of the land. He showed me the well-tended gardens where I could harvest fresh vegetables and herbs for meals, noting the signs that would indicate what was ripe and ready to pick. He pointed out the redwood soaking tub, the communal fire pit, and the gated private trail that led down to a secluded beach. Another trail between two of the cottages would wind down to a redwood grove and the banks of Ferguson Creek. He told me the best views were from the top of the property near the goats, where there was a yoga deck and a hammock strung between the trees. Handing me the key to Cottage 8, he said, “Oh, and don’t forget to leave the basket outside the door if you’d like fresh eggs for breakfast.”
I entered the charming cottage and promptly forgot about the basket. Preserving the cottage’s vintage design, the bright and airy spaces effortlessly blend cozy, rustic farmhouse style with modern touches. The walls were painted white and trimmed with wainscoting. A pair of wingback chairs in the living room faced the windows and the ocean views. A classic-style black gas fire stove stood in the corner to keep things warm and cozy. The kitchen featured retro touches like metal-trimmed Formica countertops and was thoughtfully equipped with everything you’d need to whip up a meal. In the back of the cottage, a simply furnished bedroom featured a wooden dresser and a cozy queen bed covered in down and crisp white linens. Off the bedroom was a small bath steeped in vintage charm.
To help with meals, Cab and Deanna offer an array of provisions that can be added to your stay and stocked before arrival. I had requested breakfast and picnic provisions and was overjoyed with the delicious, locally sourced goodies. A rustic basket on the table was overflowing with freshly baked bread, locally made jam, fresh strawberries, salted butter, snacks, and a custom tea blend that Deanna had harvested, dried, and blended herself. Inside the fridge, I found locally smoked bacon and goat cheese. I had just sliced off a piece of bread and slathered it with goat cheese when I heard a knock at the door.
Deanna, the egg-fairy, was standing at the door with a gorgeous basket of eggs she had just collected and washed. “Would you like any eggs?” she asked.
I had completely forgotten to hang the basket outside the door. It was a charming, black wire-framed basket in the shape of a chicken. Embarrassed, I handed her the basket, and she placed two lovely eggs inside.
After dinner that night, I sat on the deck and stared up at the blaze of stars overhead. Traces of the Milky Way extended across the ocean and there were so many stars I could barely make out the constellations.
In the morning, I went to the garden to harvest veggies for a breakfast scramble. I picked two types of kale, some spring onions, and an assortment of fresh herbs. On the way, I passed Cab, who was headed to a local bakery. He asked if I wanted anything from the bakery. He said their croissants were amazing. I reluctantly demurred. I had the makings of a healthy breakfast after all.
Back at the cottage, I made some tea, fried the bacon, scrambled the eggs, and added the chopped veggies. I took my delicious scramble out to the deck, where the sun was just beginning to burn off the fog. One of the farm’s resident cats hopped up to join me on the deck.
Cab returned from the bakery and once again offered a croissant. He said he had regular, chocolate, or chocolate almond. Unable to resist, I chose the chocolate. If Cab ever offers you a chocolate croissant, by all means, take it. With a lightly crisped, golden-hued exterior and a pillowy soft interior, the chocolate croissant was quite possibly the best croissant I’ve ever had. I meant to save half for later, but I devoured the entire thing.
Afterward, I followed the trail down to a deserted beach, where I found tide pools and a small waterfall pouring from the rocky cliffs. Later in the day, I hiked along the coastal bluffs at Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands and climbed to the top of the historic, 115-foot Point Arena Lighthouse, where I spotted whales passing just offshore. I stopped at Schooner Gulch State Beach, with the hopes of seeing the sandstone formations at Bowling Ball Beach but the tide wasn’t low enough. At Cab’s suggestion, I visited Gualala Point Regional Park. This stunning park borders the Gualala River and features an expansive beach and estuary. Trails connect the beach to the coastal bluffs and the Sea Ranch community just to the south.
Back at Mar Vista that evening, I met a couple of shy bunnies, petted the goats, and found my way to the hammock where I could savor the quiet and seclusion of this tranquil farm retreat along the coast.