Even on foggy, damp day (and Lord knows we’ve had enough of those this summer), Nervous Nellie’s Jams & Jellies is a treasure.
Located off the Sunshine Road in Deer Isle, it’s a combination tea room, jam kitchen, folk art gallery and fantasy land for kids of all ages. This is one of those off-the-beaten-path Maine treasures that make travel fun. Every time I visit here, I find something new.
Peter Beerits is the sculptor, creating critters of all types from found objects. The funky dogs welcoming folks to the property, crafted from old mailboxes, wood, and other dump finds, give new meaning to the term junkyard dog. Dragons, bears, knights in shining armor, even a castle, can be found in the woods behind the tea room. More characters—a bear, fox, people—litter the fields. Others peer out of windows or hide in the property’s nooks and crannies. Many of the whimsical characters Beerits constructs are drawn from his Nervous Nellie’s stories. He’s finished the fifth episode.
Beerits even has brought historical buildings to the property, including Johnson’s Market and the former Hardy’s store, bringing both back to fantasy life and populating them with characters. It has elements of a living history museum, preserving icons of island life right down to the pickled eggs on the store’s counter.
After a trip down south last winter, Beerit’s has added a multi-cultural touch to his village with Red’s Lounge, a bona fide musical road house. Really, you must see it—and hear the music in this joint.
Peter’s wife Anne operates the jam kitchen, making delicious jams and jellies, conserves and preserves, chutneys and marmalades, which are sold at the tea room, through mail order and at a limited number of specialty stores, mostly in Maine. At one point, the products were carried by places such as Dean & DeLuca in New York. No longer, they’ve downsized, allowing them to keep making their products by hand in small batches.
In the self-serve tea room, you also can have tea, coffee or other sweets—which of course you’ll want to slather with jam. There’s also a tasting bar for the jams. Don’t be surprised if you end up purchasing a number of different flavors of jam; many are unusual and in limited production. Eat inside or our on the deck with the duo playing checkers.
If nothing else, this place is bound to make you smile.