Blue Lotus Farm and Retreat Center officially came to life as a non-profit organization in August of 2002. Long before this though, the property was an actual farm – consisting of a 1.5 story house, a barn, a couple of trees, and acres upon acres of corn fields. Fred Bliffert’s father, Robert, purchased the property in 1948, with the intent to use it as a summer home. Robert was responsible for the initial work done on the property – adding a porch and lower section to the farm house, building an in-ground pool, and planting numerous bushes and trees of all kinds, including mulberry and apple, throughout the property. With time the area naturalized – the trees grew, prairies formed and the place became a special getaway for Robert, his family, and friends. He enjoyed his summer home for many years, until the mid 90’s when his health began to deteriorate.
When Robert Bliffert passed away in 1998, he left the 64-acre property to his children. Because the farm had been unoccupied and unused for many years prior to this, the land had become completely overgrown and the property itself was in much disrepair. Fred, being the only sibling living in the area, was left in charge to care for the place. Fred and his brother Duke, when he was available, began to fix up the house by repairing buckled floors and remodeling the kitchen and bathroom in the house. Fred and his wife, Susan, continued to rehab the property, house, and barn, spending most weekends for years bringing it back to life. Initially it was just plain hard manual labor clearing dead wood, fixing fences, re-painting the pool interior, hauling away several 30 yard dumpsters of trash and broken furniture, appliances, rusty machinery, and more.
It blossomed into a beautiful, natural retreat from the city. Realizing the sanctity that the farm held, Fred and Susan wanted to share the property with those around them. Initially, they invited just a few special needs groups out to use the property for day picnics and outdoor relaxation. The Milwaukee Center for Independence (MCFI) was one of the first groups to come out and use the property for this purpose. After realizing the positive impact the farm had on a number of these individuals at MCFI, they made the decision to share the farm with an even greater community.
Fred and Susan applied for non-profit status and in 2002, Blue Lotus Farm & Retreat Center was born.