Lavender farms are growing (pun intended) in popularity around the world. Since growing lavender is relatively easy, and its blooms are so popular for so many uses, you probably don’t have to go far to find a lavender growing operation. Lavender has grown wild for all of recorded history in the countries of the Mediterranean and has spread through trade, settlement, and conquering armies.
Commercial production of lavender seems to have been started in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These farms were started to provide the essential oil to the perfume industry.
Today they can be found in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, United States of America (USA), Canada, United Kingdom, and of course Mediterranean countries such as France. In the USA lavender farms can be found from New England to Hawaii, from the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic Southeast, and even in the desert Southwest!
Lavender farms come in many shapes and sizes, from the large commercial operations covering a hundred acres or more to the small boutique farms that are not much more than a large garden. The primary focus of the large farms is to harvest the aromatic blossoms to extract the essential oil through distillation. Often the stills are large self-contained units on trailers that are pulled into the fields. The harvested lavender is loaded directly into the still and the essential oil is put into large containers as it is extracted.
Many of the small to medium sized farms build their operation around the few weeks of summer that the lavender blossoms are at their peak in aroma and beauty. Many of these farms are open to the public and are geared to giving their visitors a unique “Lavender Experience”.
Tours – Many farms provide tours to allow their guests to soak up the relaxing atmosphere of a lavender field in bloom. The tours will be as varied as the farms themselves. You might simply take a stroll through a field on your own, or you might get a guided tour of the facilities including drying and distilling areas. You might even get a hayride on a horse drawn trailer to visit the fields of a larger farm. Regardless of the lavender tour details, you are sure to enjoy the atmosphere you experience on the farm.
Festivals – Lavender festivals are becoming very popular events that celebrate all things lavender. Some small farms sponsor their own festivals, and farmers in areas that have multiple farms may cooperate to have a larger festival. Some of the attractions that are common at many festivals may include:
Pick your own lavender. Walk through the field and harvest your own bounty.
Taste the lavender. Opportunities to dine on lavender seasoned delicacies.
Sample lavender products. Try everything from massage oil to pet shampoo
- Weddings – Some lavender farms offer the use of their facilities to couples who want to tie the knot among the beautiful and sweet smelling lavender blossoms. Lavender bouquets, decorations and colors become a part of the once in a lifetime experience of a lavender wedding .
- Products – Many lavender farmers also make and sell products made from lavender. Some of the common products in this cottage industry include soaps, lotions, creams, and bath salts. Other products are made from the dried lavender stalks and buds including sachets, wands, and wreaths.
If you ever get the opportunity to visit a lavender farm while the plants are in bloom, you’ll enjoy an experience that will likely draw you back again and again.