Tuesday, Mar. 4
When Anthony and Karla Seidita stayed in a bed and breakfast in Cape May, N.J. on their honeymoon 31 years ago, a seed was planted for a their future dream.
“We thought, gee wouldn’t this be neat to do someday?” said Karla, who now owns and operates Cheesecake Farms in Sumerduck with her husband. “So, 31 years later, here we are.”
Karla and Anthony bought their land 25 years ago, during the days that Karla owned and operated a successful cheesecake business in Fredericksburg. Over the years the couple built a barn with two apartments attached, paddocks for their three retired horses and, finally, a large farmhouse.
“After my wife retired, we said, ‘now what?’ We had all of these units, and we talked about it,” said Anthony. “With her background in cooking and her home ec skills, we decided that we would have a bed and breakfast.”
Karla and Anthony agreed to name the farm in homage to her past career.
“One of our trademarks [for the business] was Cheesecake Farms, so when I retired from that I was trying to think of a name for the farm here,” said Karla. “Tony said, ‘why don’t you just call it Cheesecake Farms?’ I already had the trademark and it would be kinda cute and unusual.”
The name stuck, but Karla was hesitant to make cheesecakes for her guests. She had moved on and sold all of her heavy-duty baking equipment.
When the couple opened up their home to their first guests about three years ago, Karla didn’t bother making any cheesecake.
“The very first couple that came and stayed with us said that they had a wonderful time, but they were surprised that they didn’t get any cheesecake,” said Karla. “So now, part of our Sunday breakfast menu is cheesecake.”
The farm has vegetable gardens that provide for Karla’s cooking. She also uses as many locally raised eggs, cheese and meat as possible.
Karla said that she has found over the years that her guests are very interested in learning about the “farm to fork” movement and that they enjoy eating farm fresh foods.
When the bed and breakfast first opened Karla made elaborate gourmet meals for the guests, but soon realized that a simple country meal was even more appealing to her clients.
“One day I just ran out of time, so I just served scrambled eggs and home fries,” Karla said. “The eggs we get are local, and they’re very fresh and just so delicious. The guests just went berserk over these eggs and home fries. I thought, gee maybe I’m on to something here. Maybe people really would prefer in a farm setting to have something that is simple and that you wouldn’t typically order in a restaurant.”
Because of the guests’ interest in learning more about farming, Karla has started offering agri-educational learning opportunities.
“Most of our guests that come out are in their 20’s to 30’s from the D.C. area predominantly,” said Karla. “They’re the kind of guest that really wants to come to the country and see what the country has to offer and they are really interested in environmental issues. So, we’ve been offering educational aspects to our farming.”
Karla has also started making her own mozzarella cheese from local milk, and is considering teaching interested guests about the process. She said that they also might start a pick-your-own basil farm on the property this spring.
Both Anthony and Karla say that they enjoy running the bed and breakfast because of the variety of people that they get to meet in the process.
“What I like is the people,” Anthony said. “We’ve found that most people who’ve stayed with us are very outgoing and very comfortable with us.”
Karla recalls one visitor who seemed a little unusual at first.
“One guest really sticks out in my mind,” said Karla. “He came by himself for the weekend and he said that he didn’t want to be disturbed at all. I didn’t know why, but I said, ‘OK.’ He turned out to be author and he was working out some really difficult passages and he really wanted to go to a place where he could be left alone. He was able to do what he needed to do, and on Sunday he was so happy because it was all accomplished.”
Cheesecake Farms totals 25 acres, including a wetland in back of the house. There are currently three suites offered to guests, and plans are for for up to nine in the future. Guests are welcome to visit year round. Traditional bed and breakfast accommodations are offered Friday through Sunday. Guests who wish to stay during the week are welcome to stay in one of the barn apartments, but without breakfast offered. Karla also said that she has begun to offer retreats for larger groups of people.
Karla has written and published a few cooking related books, including “Cooking up Cash" and "Tummy Yummies.”
For more information, visit http://www.cheesecakefarms.com