When Laura and Phillip Lotto first purchased their Algoma farmhouse in 2012, they admit to entertaining visions of a sprawling Woodstock-esque music festival taking over their 35 acres. It was a vision that matched their free spirits, love of music and the budding entrepreneurs within.
As they began growing their family and transforming their property into a small-scale farm, complete with two acres of produce and grains and a host of small farm animals, that vision grew.
Next weekend, it becomes a reality as Lotto’s Lazy Acres hosts the first annual Roots Revival Education & Jam Fest, July 21-22. With a mission to cultivate community and our connection to the planet, the education and jam fest will showcase traditional sustainable methods, products and services along with more than a dozen bands from throughout the Midwest.
Small-scale farming was the impetus for the Lottos’ interest in creating the festival. Natives of Denmark, Wis., the couple are high school sweethearts whose childhoods revolved around countryside living and, in Phillip’s case, a bit of farming and gardening. Despite these early introductions to self-sufficiency, he is the first to admit how much he hated it.
“My parents would have to force me to get out there and hoe and weed the garden,” Phillip said.
When he and Laura purchased their Algoma property after several years living in Wrightstown, where their home was purchased so a bridge could be built, it changed everything. The large piece of land in Kewaunee County marked a significant change in their lifestyle.
“Eventually we started our own garden and I got interested in it,” Phillip said. “I think it was because I was more attached to it. It was food for us and our family, and then we decided let’s grow this a little more and see if other people want to partake in some of this so we did a small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), we started doing a market, we enjoyed that mainly because of the connections we were forming.”
“We were finding some really awesome, outside-the-box thinking people,” Laura added. “We wanted to help more but we just couldn’t figure out a way that farming could do that.”
Drawing from Laura’s experience as a health and wellness coach, educator and owner of hOIListic Life, a business built on helping people achieve physical, mental and spiritual wellness, the couple set forth on creating an event that would encourage people to become more self reliant, self aware and self sufficient in the areas of health and wellness.
Drawing on one Algoma connection in particular, Logan Dier of reggae rockers Unity the Band, they devised a plan and in the past year-and-a-half, have built a team of individuals that have helped gather a roster of professionals, bands and volunteers whose philosophies on life and wellness mirror their own.
Next weekend, half of their property will be transformed for the purpose of showcasing locally supported and naturally derived food, refreshments and products, holistic services, demonstration of sustainable, smaller scale farming practices, and roots music and art.
“We really want to help showcase the things we utilize in our life whether it’s oils or massage therapy or sound therapy, all of the different modalities we have found super helpful in our world,” Laura said. “…As a wellness coach, people tend to reveal a lot of stuff to me and really unload a lot of stuff and I find a lot of people are looking and desperate for answers that they’re not finding with their traditional doctors and they just don’t know where to turn. This is kind of a way to show nutrition and small-scale farming and alternative therapies all surrounded by community and family and music and arts and all of that together. It’s basically all the cool stuff we really like.”
Roots Revival will feature two music stages and one speaker stage with 18 professionals speaking on topics from clean water and essential oils to intellectual hip-hop and alpacas. The Lottos’ approach to building the festival reflects their self-sustaining nature: many of its features, including the tents, lighting and hammock lounge, are constructed from found and donated materials. Their three children – ages 8, 5 and 4 – will sell fruit and man the Pokémon booth.
Their focus on community extends to various aspects of the festival as well, from the offer of tent camping for $20 to fest goers and the creation of a silent auction that will support local nonprofits.
“Part of the vendor fee is a $20 donation of a good or a service, and then we’re going to do a silent auction and the money raised from that is going to be split up for the local charities,” Laura said. “We’re really excited about that.”
Though their first festival has not yet arrived, the Lottos are already dreaming of bigger things. Incorporated into their five-year plan for Roots Revival Education and Jam Fest is a vision of a retreat center that will carry on their mission of promoting health, wellness and sustainable living.
“I’ve seen a lot of people who are really, really struggling and toxic and they know they need something,” Laura said. “They just don’t know what. We want to provide that health and wellness retreat center and then the festival would kind of go along with that. It would all work together.
“If it turns out like it is in our heads, it should be phenomenal.”
Lotto’s Lazy Acres is located at N8282 County Road D in Algoma. Advance tickets are $20, weekend; $15, one day; $3, weekend, children ages 3-7. Tickets at the door are $25. Camping passes, for up to six people, are available for $20. For more information, visit RootsRevival.net.