June 14, 2008

Visit to Sunshine Lavender Farm

As a flower gardener who loves lavender, a visit to Sunshine Lavender Farm today was a real treat. Sunshine Lavender Farm is a privately owned farm that grows lavender and produces and sells lavender products at farmer's markets and in some stores. Annie Baggett, the owner, is a Master Gardener as well. In our area, I consider Annie to be THE expert on all things related to growing and using lavender.

Since the farm is also the owner's home, visiting is by invitation only during a special event such as the 5th Annual Lavender Harvest Celebration.

My husband and I had a tour of the farm, sampled lavender infused cupcakes, lavender ice cream and had a wonderful picnic lunch at the farm. We came away with some culinary lavender and a cookbook that we purchased from the farm.

Maple View Farm provided lavender ice cream:

I grow Spanish Lavender in my flower garden for the blooms, deer resistance and drought tolerance. Other varieties (also deer and drought tolerant) are more suitable for culinary uses and bath/beauty products. Most of what I know about lavender, I have learned from visiting the website of Sunshine Lavender Farm. If you are interested in learning about growing lavender and its uses, I highly recommend visiting the Sunshine Lavender Farm website.

Here are some photos that we took of the lavender fields at the Harvest Celebration. Annie discussed proper planting and harvesting during the farm tour. She plants her lavender high and dry in full sun. Annie says that lavender needs six hours of sunshine a day. Annie grows several varieties. I later asked her to recommend the best one for culinary uses. For cooking and baking, Annie recommends Provence lavender as used for the cupcakes and the ice cream that we sampled.

Lavender is dried in bunches, hanging upside down in a dark, warm, dry location. Although the lavender is shown hanging on the loft door, it isn't usually hung to dry there. This was a display for the farm tour. It is hung to dry inside the top of the barn. Annie doesn't use machinery to strip the bracts from the wands. Instead, the dried lavender is separated from the stems by hand.

Sunshine Lavender Farm product tent is appropriately lavender! It's easy to spot at the local farmer's markets.

Lavender plants were also available for sale. I noticed Goodwin Creek, Grosso, Provence, Hidcote ...and other varieties.

Here are some photos from Annie's beautiful flower garden at her house:

Annie's kitchen garden is full of herbs and veggies:

These gorgeous quilts were on display:

It is rare and wonderful to visit a family-run farm business. We thoroughly enjoyed the educational aspects, the beauty and of course, sampling lavender products.

Happy Gardening!
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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