This should be simple enough. The story is supposed to be about a really cool outdoor kitchen. We’ll go to the home of this Reynolds Member who has a kitchen as unforgettable as his name, Marty Martenson. We’ll introduce ourselves, set up some lights, and take a few pictures of the kitchen. We should be out of Marty’s backyard in 30 minutes.

The plan takes a sharp turn, however, as soon as we pull down a long, winding slope of perfect pavers in a setting that’s part Churchill Downs, part Irish countryside, and a little Oz-ish.

This is interesting.

We park at the bottom of the driveway and walk around to the back of the house. Sure enough, there it is: an outdoor kitchen that would put a Lowe’s catalog to shame. The tableware is even set. But our attention diverts from the wine glasses to the emerald infinity pool, the stonework around the hot tub, the yard lush enough to make sheep jealous, a guesthouse, and oh! There’s Marty Martenson himself.

“Welcome to Cottonwood Farm,” he says with a handshake and demeanor that makes the word “welcome” seem repetitive. The farm part might need some explaining. “Whenever we pull into the driveway like you just did, we find the place … transformational. I hope it does something for you, too.”

It is doing something to us. So much so that we’ll need to be here for more than 30 minutes.

Marty and his wife, Patty, have obviously been transformed in some way because they don’t look anything like labor lawyers with offices in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and California. They could pass for newlyweds who decided to wing it for a year on a sailboat. Marty’s hands are calloused. His jeans are well-worn. It’s hard to picture him or Patty in a courtroom grilling a plaintiff, but a pork shoulder on the Green Egg? Definitely.

“When we were looking for a place, Patty wanted to feel like she’d be escaping to a cottage on a lake,” Marty says. “I wanted a project. I need projects. So, this property is a labor of love for us.”

The house and the land were perfectly fine for anyone but a guy who says he was “raised with a shovel in my hand and a chainsaw at my side.” Marty and Patty built their law practice with the same ethos: from the ground up. So, on move-in day in 2015, while Patty saw simplicity and a backyard as big as a football field, Marty saw space to swing an axe, kneel in the soil, and feel sweat trickling down his neck.
Every so often he would remind Patty of something that should be engraved on an inspirational statue: “Don’t see this for what it is. See it for what it could be.”

The first could-be? A firepit. Done. The firepit led to a vision for a lap pool where one of their four sons, Cannon, could train for competition.
“When we finished the design for the 25-yard lap pool, it looked too much like a long cigar box in the yard,” Marty says. They kept the shovels moving until they’d completed an infinity pool. After a swim or two, they further modified the property by renovating the guest house and adding a gazebo, a multi-sport court, outdoor seating areas to better take in the lake, a stone creek, and a driveway that serves as a scenic route through the fence-lined property.

“We always have something going on,” Marty says.

The Martensons even trucked in a cottonwood tree from Texas. It’s now a centerpiece in the front yard and in the logo they created to brand the entire estate: “Cottonwood Farm.” The logo is on hats, sweatshirts, dress shirts, and stacks of t-shirts. It adds meaning to life on this ranch, this retreat, this beautiful work in progress.

To be sure, the Martensons aren’t trying to stand out. If anything, they’re pretty well hidden in the middle of Reynolds.
“Maybe, though, we can inspire other Members to imagine what could be,” Marty says.

Whenever Marty, Patty, and the boys drive down the paver driveway, alongside the fence they re-built, and walk into the backyard they’ve transformed, they eventually slip into something more comfortable — usually, jeans and t-shirts.

While walking the property, Marty points out his newest project – 10 acres that lie adjacent to Cottonwood. “We’ve got big plans for that area. Patty wants to take the lead on renovating the existing house and I’ll oversee the design and build of the new barn and paddock.”

To them, tools are toys.

“But this is our getaway,” Marty says, “so we’ll always go for a swim first.”

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