Sustainable Pulse Profile: Door County People: Robyn Mulhaney and Susan Connor of Algoma’s Flying Pig Gallery and Greenspace

When eco-conscious tourists arrive at the Flying Pig in Algoma, they are often surprised to find a thriving green community in, as one traveler from California put it, “the middle of nowhere.” Though some who call northeastern Wisconsin home may take exception to the geographical assignment of “nowhere,” it’s hard to deny that a green, sustainable community in Algoma may seem as unlikely a discovery as, well, a flying pig.

The Flying Pig Gallery and Greenspace.

While the Flying Pig serves primarily as a gallery, co-owners Robyn Mulhaney and Susan Connor give equal billing to their ecological goals, calling their business “The Flying Pig Gallery and Greenspace.” In the addition to its gallery, the Flying Pig features a café, gift items, occasional live music, and outdoor gardens, and Mulhaney and Connor do their best to make sure a “think green” philosophy pervades each aspect of their business.

The Flying Pig Gallery, for example, focuses on creative works that are made out of – as Mulhaney puts it – “reclaimed, recycled, and repurposed materials.” And when Mulhaney and Connor look for art and gift items to sell as merchandise, they seek out small, local artisans.

“We don’t import gift items, and we don’t go through gift catalogues,” Mulhaney says emphatically. Generally, she and Connor find merchandise by traveling around and “looking for craftspeople to invite to be part of the Flying Pig,” Mulhaney says. “I do think that that’s part of being green and sustainable in the local market.”

In the Flying Pig’s café, all paper products are 100 percent recyclable, and even clear cups are made of compostable corn starch. The café serves only organic, fair-trade coffee and carries a variety of products from Algoma’s own Farm Market Kitchen. In the next ten years, Mulhaney would like to see a harvest café in the Flying Pig, featuring a menu that constantly changes according to the seasonal availability of local, organic products.

Also in the near future, Mulhaney and Connor would like to see the pump for their pond and their garden lighting run exclusively on wind or solar power (Kewaunee County, Mulhaney points out, offers some of the greatest wind power in the state of Wisconsin). The Flying Pig is already entirely electric-based – they use no fossil fuels – and uses geothermal and passive solar energy. Their gardens are fertilized with all organic fertilizers, including milorganite, a byproduct of the Milwaukee sewer system.

Mulhaney and Connor plan to stay as ecologically conscientious as possible for as long as possible. As Mulhaney says, “We’re green because it’s personal, not because it’s trendy or good for business.” As long as they’re in business, she says, “Let’s keep it local, sustainable, and green.”