for the love of lavender

A look into the life of a lavender farming family.

Name:
Location: Yamhill, Oregon, United States

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

the hazy purple dream

When we planted our first lavender field, we knew we were not the only ones with the hazy purple dream of endless fields of the stuff. At the time we only knew of a handful of others who actually had plants in the ground though. The difference between dreaming about it and doing it involves many obstacles, a steep learning curve and -believe it or not- farming.

We used to picture every hillside covered in lavender. Every field of weeds, every fallow field, every unused piece of land - a purple sea of color. The reality is that lavender is a fairly high maintenance crop costing more for us to produce than what we can purchase it for- if we were willing to purchase imported lavender for our products. Lavender buds, bunches, oil etc. can all be purchased very inexpensively from several overseas countries.

We think many people including us planted their lavender fields on faith. Faith that they could find a market for the lavender later when the plants were full grown and producing. You have a few years while the plants are growing to figure that out right? We joke now about believeing that "if we plant it they will come" but we did in fact believe that. In reality it's important to have a plan before you put your first plant in the ground. Your plan will determine what varieties you plant, how many plants you need and what you intend to do with your harvest.

As more and more lavender farms crop up all across the country it will only become more difficult to have a viable plan. Here in Oregon there are about 40 lavender farms now. We hear of new ones on a regular basis. It seems the hazy purple dream is still spreading. At the same time the hazy purple dream is fading for some. There are already lavender farms going out of business or that don't know what to do with all that lavender.

We still believe in our purple dream even if it's not as hazy. We no longer picture every hillside covered in lavender. Our dream has aligned itself closer to reality while we keep the faith that it will all be worth it in the long run. Working this hard at something you love is supposed to pay off right? You just have to be content with the payoff being about lifestyle and not only about money. For the love of lavender.....