By Malea Waldrup, Roguevalleymagazine.com
Nestled in the Applegate Valley on 375 Hamilton Rd., I found a little slice of aromatic heaven. Purple was everywhere, natural products in a little country barn store, and the quiet you can only find generously off the road. I immediately felt welcome to Lavender Fields Forever.
Becky Hunt, my mother, had just made a wreath out of the lavender, with some ornamental basil to add a finishing touch, 2 weeks prior. She then signed up for the lavender essential oil and hydrosol class that we were now attending. I was a tagalong, picture taking, happy to be away from my town for a bit, wide-eyed observer. But that didn’t stop our generous hosts!
I was encouraged to participate in every step of the journey.
First, we learned there were over 400 varieties of lavender, and there is a distinction between culinary lavender and lavender for essential oil use and landscaping lavender.
Part of that was how to tell the difference- put a part of the lavender in your teeth, then hold in your mouth without chewing- soapy = not culinary, good tasting in mouth = culinary. The landscaping lavender has very little odor and cannot be used with distilling or cooking.
The class was taught how to “hug” the lavender bloom to catch its distinctive smell and try to tell the difference between one type over another.
We were all taught how to use a hand scythe to harvest the lavender, after first gently moving the plant to scatter the bumblebees happily buzzing through every bush. There were a lot of bees!
We were taught to lay the lavender in rows in the wagon layered by cardboard and that we would need two wagons full to distill enough essential oil for our 4 oz jars for each class member. Since I was a tagalong, I took the role of retrieving and arranging the cut lavender while the actual class cut it.
I have to admit, the sheer amount of bees made me nervous at first, I was wearing sandals, no sunblock or hat, a tank top, not exactly harvesting attire! But no stings I am happy to report and I eventually was able to truly enjoy the sight of so many bees on the plants.
Then we prepared the lavender to pack into a container for the distilling process. The distilling took about an hour, and the by-product hydrosol was discussed and smelled every time it was drawn off the distillery.
Hydrosol is in essence, lavender water. But it was very fresh and the smell changed with each draw off. It has many uses, we all found out, from freshening linens, keeping fleas and ticks at bay, and making your home smell great!
We also learned many uses for the essential lavender oil as well. One use was putting a few drops on a wool ball to act as a natural laundry softening and gentle odor enhancer. The medicinal and skin help uses were too numerous to list!
Lavender lemonade, lavender brownies, hand sanitizers, roll-on essential oil mixes that smelled like the best planet earth had to offer hit your skin. The store had it all.
I ended up taking an entire box of lavender plant clippings home for a friends chicken (anti-microbial properties, very good for their diet!), 2 containers of hydrosol (flea issues!), and a small bottle of essential oil. We shared a lemonade, and a brownie, each with distinctive lavender overtones. I indulged in a lavender/lemongrass hand sanitizer, and a roll-on essential oil mix named “pick-me-up”- which contains 100% pure lavender, Bergamot FCF, Lemon, Lemongrass, Melissa, Orange Sweet, and Peppermint.
Although the season is almost over……
Experience–the beauty and serenity of our working lavender farm. We cultivate 7 exceptional varieties of white, pink and blue/purple lavender for culinary use, crafting, and essential oil production.
Enjoy – a relaxing stroll in our Lavender fields and harvest your own bouquet. Capture the flowers, butterflies, and Applegate Valley scenery with your camera or paintbrush. Bring your own picnic to enjoy under the maple tree. Or you can pick up a bottle of wine and some food at a winery or local deli along the way. Bask in the Applegate sunshine and the sights and scents of lavender!
Learn – join our Lavender Distillation Demo’s or take one of our many classes. Class topics include hands-on experience of harvesting and distillation, propagation, herbal skincare, making your own Lavender crafts and much more…
Shop –in our barn store which offers a unique collection of hand-crafted lavender products.
We look forward to seeing you!
375 Hamilton Rd Jacksonville, Oregon Call (541) 702-2250
Hours Friday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Closed Monday through Thursday
Upcoming Events- online registration only here https://www.facebook.com/LavenderFieldsForever/
- Lavender Oil/Hydrosol Distilling Class online registration August 9th 9 am.
- Harvesting & Caring for Lavender online registration only, August 10th 10 am.