If you are out for a drive along County C west of Soldiers Grove, you may want to keep your eyes open for a new seasonal treat. Gayle’s Jelly-Jam farm truck stand is open for business!
Gayle Capretz opened the stand last weekend at the farm she shares with partner Jim Giese at the intersection of County C and Helgerson Hill Road in rural Soldiers Grove. The stand is housed in the bed of the red 1941 ton-and-a-half Chevy pick-up truck painted by Giese. Giese, a graphic designer, also designed the labels on Capretz’s jars of handmade condiments.
“We offer 15 kinds of jelly, salsa, volcanic hot sauce and honey,” Capretz said.
Eight of the jellies are made from different varieties of wine grape. The whites are Eidelweiss, Cayuga White, Seyval, and LaCrosse. The reds are Marechal Foch, Frontenac, Léon Millot, and Marquette. Each variety produces a distinct flavor.
The other jams and jellies are gooseberry, elderberry, blackberry, Asian pear, apple, cherry, and ginger-mint.
Capretz is open noon until 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekends, though she noted it takes a bit to pack up, so customers can still catch her at the stand until a bit later.
And this Saturday, October 4, local musician Adrian Hudson will provide entertainment between noon and 3 p.m.
“My salsa is mild,” Capretz explained. “I like for anyone to be able to eat it. And then I do make the volcanic hot sauce, so if someone wants it hotter, they can always add a few drops of that!”
The volcanic sauce is made with Gayle’s blend of cayenne, serrano, jalapeno, Maya, and habanero peppers.
Capretz cultivates approximately three acres of trees, bushes and vines.
“We are not certified organic, though we do use organic practices (raising the fruit and vegetables),” Capretz said.
The couple rents out a portion of the 50-acre farm to Driftless Organics. The rented fields are currently certified organic.
Capretz generally grows all of her produce on the farm, though seasonal vagaries did result in purchasing cherries and peppers this year. She lost her cherry trees to deer this year and the cool weather reduced her pepper crop substantially.
The farm stand is a “baby step” toward realizing Capretz’s dream of building a farm store with a commercial kitchen in the first floor of the barn that the couple is restoring bit by bit. The kitchen would allow Capretz to add bottled juices and fresh fruit to her line-up.
But until then, she operates under Wisconsin’s Pickle Bill, which means each jar of her handcrafted jellies and jams bears a little label assuring you the product was made in a private home. It also means that the stand will only run until the weather is cold enough to begin freezing and will reopen in the spring. Sales from the house itself are prohibited under the bill.
“I would love it if folks would wave and honk when they drive by,” Capretz said. “Though I really love it, when people can stop to visit.”
Capretz welcomes calls with questions. The farm number is 608-735-4404, though you might have to call more than once. The phone is on the wall inside the house. Gayle, on the other hand, is likely to be outside tending to the fruit stand or her plantings.