Friday, July 13, 2012

2 mornings on a lavender farm

Hubby and I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Prince Edward County. Always one of our most favourite places to go, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It's hard to beat evenings sitting on a deck drinking wine and gazing at the West Lake.

For me though, this visit was all about lavender. Derek and Rolande of the Prince Edward County Lavender Farm were kind enough to let me come to the farm to help with their harvest and give me a crash course in essential oil making via steam distillation and all things lavender.

Last year the farm produced around 11 litres of lavender and lavadin essential oil which is sold as is and also made into soaps, lotions, body washes and creams which they sell in their store on the farm. They also have hives on site and sell pure lavender honey and have collaborated with local companies to make lavender chocolate and preserves. For the aromatologists and aromatherapists in the crowd, their lavendula angustifolia oil meets the ISO 3515 standard (the oil is sent to a university in Quebec for the gas chromotography analysis).

The lavender is harvested by hand and it is no easy job! Doing so means that the birds and rabbits that nest in the plants are minimally disturbed since the only equipment used is a hand scythe. I'm not going to lie, it was a little backbreaking. But it was so peaceful without the sounds of heavy machinery. I definitely shouldn't quit my day job - the experts Dave, Miranda and Holly harvested 2-3 rows to every 1 row I harvested! But, I enjoyed my time among those rows and rows of purple. The scent of lavender kept me energized (lavender is one of only a few balancing oils which can relax as well as invigorate) and the hum of the bees remained in my ears long after leaving.

Derek and Rolande were so kind and generous to share their knowledge with me not only of lavender and essential oil making but also on running a farm. I learned so much.

I can't recommend a visit to this farm enough. Bring a lunch and sit under the trees next to the lavender fields. Come during harvest season (late June/early July) and you can get a tour of the farm and watch the essential oil being made (call ahead to find out what time they are planning to make the oil so you don't miss it).

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