Claudine Bravo and her husband Carl Hardy stand beside the Blue Thistle shop on Rt 4 in Avon. Paula Kane

AVON – Just a hop, skip, and a jump down Route 4 from the Avon Town Hall, at 1063 Rangeley Road, is Blue Thistle. Owned and operated by Claudine Bravo and her husband Carl Hardy, the shop is right beside the road at the head of their drive.

A large OPEN flag welcomes visitors on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Inside, a delightful selection of sweet treats await. Along with those made by Claudine herself, the shop features a wide variety of other Maine-made products, including more edibles and crafts, as well.

Claudine behind the counter inside the shop. Paula Kane photo

Claudine’s goodies include sour cream coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, soft pretzels, walnut brownies, and chocolate chip or oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Muffins are also a regular offering. Currently, these are made most often with wild Maine blueberries, but strawberry, chocolate chocolate chip, and/or lemon poppy seed are also possibilities. Other items sure to delight the palate may include linzer cookies, tea cakes, tea cookies, whoopie pies, lemon bars, and Million Dollar Bars, made from “a secret recipe”. Depending on the day, one may also find hand pies and flourless chocolate tortes, coconut shortbread, and meringue cookies.

The Sunday special is croissants, freshly baked each Sunday morning. Claudine rises at 4 am in order to get these highly sought after pastries into the oven in time to have them on the shop shelves by 8 am opening time.

“Croissants take a lot of practice,” she explained, “They’re a lot of work…starting with finding the right recipe…finding what works.”

Claudine has spent a lot of time researching, testing and tasting, reading and watching YouTube videos, until she finally found what she was looking for.


“And it’s not just the recipe,” she continued, “technique is also important.”

If hoping for some of these buttery, flaky treats, one would do well to arrive at the shop early for they do not last very long!

Table display of items created by Maine Rock Designs. Paula Kane photo

In addition to the homemade edibles, the shop also offers, in season, freshly cut floral bouquets, medium and small, of summer blooms from the Blue Thistle gardens, often featuring dahlias, glads, and zinnias. The gardens also boast blue globe thistles, the farm’s namesake.

Other garden goodies currently available at the farm include seasonal decorative gourds, garlic, and banana fingerling potatoes. For those who may be unfamiliar with this type of potato, they are comparatively small, oblong, and crescent-shaped with “a full-bodied, buttery, and nutty taste” when cooked. Considered “gourmet”, they are comparatively small compared with the table variety potatoes which are more commonly found.

And still, that is only the beginning! A variety of other Maine-made goodies from around the state include Maine Maple Mustard Sauce from Madison (be sure to try this with the soft pretzels); deep-fried potato chips made at Vintage Maine Kitchen in Pownal using all locally sourced ingredients; and all natural Green Bee Honey Soda, made with freshly squeezed fruit juices and sweetened with real honey from their own hives at the facility in Brunswick.

**These Maine products include pure raw honey from Our Peace of Earth in Temple, the hives of which are located right in Phillips.


Yet more new items come from Butting Heads Farm in Gardiner. Jams and jellies, as well as lemon/ginger marmalade. The couple received some of the marmalade as a gift and knew instantly that they must contact the makers regarding the possibility of including it at Blue Thistle.

“And we keep adding things,” Claudine continued, including pure raw honey from Our Peace of Earth in Temple, the hives of which are located right in Phillips.

Ornament featuring a hummingbird made from a Sandy River stone. Paula Kane photo

Blue Thistle also features the work of Maine crafters. Currently on display are the works of Chris Toy, including Acadian driftwood art and birch candles. Toy writes cookbooks, too, several autographed copies of which are also on the shelves.

Vases, oil diffusers, candle holders, and bottle stoppers are among the items created by Maine Rock Designs. All are made in Maine with rocks, collected along the Maine coast, some polished and some in their natural state.

“These go beautifully with our driftwood trees and birch candles by Acadian Driftwood Arts,” said Claudine, “perfect gifts from Maine or a treat for yourself.”

A new selection of “upcycled” handmade mittens have just been added – perfect timing for the cold weather which is beginning to set in.


“Everything is made by us or made in Maine…,” Claudine stated proudly, “and we hope to keep it that way.”

Other crafts on display have been made by Claudine herself. These feature painted river rocks, found on the banks of the Sandy River right behind the farm and transformed into magnets. There are also bird ornaments created on round, thin slices of wood “cookies”. Again using all local materials, there are dried floral wreaths, and painted greeting cards, too.

“With the holiday season right around the corner, Blue Thistle would be a perfect place to shop for local gifts,” Claudine stated enthusiastically.

“There are so many ideas about what we still want to add,” shared Claudine enthusiastically, but it is time-consuming to contact people…”

One item which she hopes to have available by 2024 is a “life on the farm” calendar with photos highlighting Blue Thistle.

The couple, who had been looking to relocate for a couple of years, were in the area to view another property farther up route 4. They “just happened” to notice the For Sale sign here. On closer inspection, they discovered the maple trees, one of the “must-have” features of their dream property. They contacted the realtor immediately and soon the deal was done.


The property was purchased in 2015. Carl and Claudine together built the sugarhouse in 2016; the garage in 2017; and the house in 2018/19. Bit by bit, they also developed the gardens in the overgrown fields.

In 2018, Carl retired from teaching language arts in the junior high in Brunswick and the couple’s dream of “a little farm store” began to take shape. Their own maple syrup was part of the plan from the very beginning. Pretty soon, that dream “took on a life of its own” and Blue Thistle is now that dream come true.

“The local folks have been extremely supportive,” Claudine stated, “This has been a most wonderful way to meet people…”

And Claudine isn’t through dreaming yet. She has always wanted to specialize in making fine chocolate. Having taken some classes and ready to take on this next challenge, Claudine is still a full time teacher in Brunswick, where she has been teaching French and Spanish at Brunswick High School for the past 25 years! She commutes home on the weekends.

With teaching and baking, Claudine is busy seven days a week. Thus, the chocolate remains on the back burner, so to speak, for the time being.

Claudine recently visited the Alsace region of France, a trip which had been on her agenda since 2020. Postponed because of the onset of covid and all the accompanying restrictions, it was “a short trip this time”, with informal visits to local bakeries. Still, she was able to gain some insights which will guide her in the pursuit of her longer term goals.

Originally from this part of France herself, it was rather a twist of fate that brought her to Maine, and to Wells in particular, where she eventually met Carl. The two have been married now for almost 33 years.

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