If you're looking for some ways to show serious love this season, try culinary lavender in your sweet treats. Here's a line up of some of the very best lavender-goody-sweets around! Give them a try and let us know what you think!
We're telling you...upping your kitchen game by adding a dose of lavender is going to make you question everything you once knew about food. It's a magic little ingredient that adds health, earth, and even a bit of relaxation to every bite. Combine it with chocolate and *poof* --- mind blown.
Here's what The Roasted Root says about this lavender chocolate chip cookie recipe: "This recipe dresses up self control in a tri-color neon leotard, sticks it on a chair, and spins it around in circles. Out. Of. Control."
We like the way she thinks.
Fifteen Spatulas writes: "These Lavender Shortbread Cookies are buttery and lightly sweet, with a floral flavor and aroma from dried lavender. They’re simple to make, only require 5 ingredients, and gift really well to family and friends!"
Lavender and rose water icing? Yes please!
The Spice House says, "This delious treat is out-of-the-ordinary." We think so too!
Lemons and lavender? It's like spring in your mouth! Bring it on.
"I feel like these soft sugar cookies with the tang of lemon and hint of lavender would be my cookie of choice to go with a cup of tea for sunshiny events such as a shower or an upcoming royal wedding, if I were to have the pleasure of making cookies for the big day!
Peaceful Dumpling - we agree!
If you live anywhere in Kentucky, then you've experienced the same winter we have...rain, rain, and more rain.
Do you know what conditions lavender hates most? Rain.
Ugh! Lavender hates having "wet feet." Wet conditions provide the perfect opportunity for diseases, like Phytophthora, root-knot nematodes, and Pythium to thrive. All of these can be detrimental to lavender plants. The bad news is that we have seen signs of all three here on the farm. We are treating them as recommended by the University of Kentucky plant pathology team, and experts from Clemson University (they're doing specific studies on these diseases in lavender).
The good news is that all that lavender we planted in rock...well, it's looking fabulous! Time will tell, so we anxiously await spring and hopefully the blooms will follow. *Fingers crossed*
It's an exciting time here on the farm!
Even though it's bone-chilling cold here right now, the new year is a time of reflection and new ideas for us. Earlier this week we returned from the United States Lavender Growers Association conference in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. While there, we were truly inspired and came away with some big ideas for the farm and our brand!
Oh...and we BOUGHT A STILL!!
I just can't wait for it to get here. We don't have enough lavender to distill our own oil, but we plan to use it for hydrosol and perhaps even for distilling for demonstrations on the farm. We're pretty excited about this purchase and can't wait to fire it up for a test run.
We need your feedback
With all that said, we're going to be making some changes to our product line. We aren't 100% sure what will go and what will stay. What we do know is we have some products that we've been making because we love them, but they either nearly cost us to make or haven't been selling well. Those will be the first items we reevaluate. We are also talking about adding a select number of items and are working on recipes now.
We also will potentially be refreshing our brand and logo a bit.
We're excited for new growth, changes, and improvements to the farm this year and we can't wait for you to visit. In the meantime, we really want your feedback and ideas! If you could take 5 minutes to help us with this simple survey, please do. When we get our first new product ready for testing, we'll be choosing a few testers from those who complete the survey, so hop on over and give us your thoughts.
We're also starting a "farmily."
Well, actually, we aren't just starting it. The "farmily" already exists. It's made up of great people (like you) who love lavender and have supported our farm in a variety of ways. Perhaps you've purchased our products at a local retail shop, or maybe you've attended our Tea on the Farm, or maybe you just like following us on social media. Either way, we're glad you're here. We hope the "farmily" will be an online space where all of us can meet to discuss, learn, and grow. We're excited for this new community and hope you'll join the conversation.
Last, we are planning a great line-up of events on the farm this spring (and praying this nasty cold weather doesn't kill the plants!!!) Watch our website and Facebook page for dates and info coming soon!
See you this spring!
-Allison and Mary
In case you missed our big announcement, we are now licensed for culinary production!
We started off our culinary line with some of our favorite items – three custom blended herbal teas, culinary lavender, and, of course, Herbs de Provence.
Herbs de Provence is a standard herb blend that you can find most anywhere, but it’s important to note that not all herb blends are created equal. Some Herbs de Provence only contain four or five herbs, but the hand-ground and hand-blended small-batch Herbs de Provence you get from The Lavender Farm at Woodstock contains 10 of the freshest herbs you can find, including our delectable culinary lavender!
We know that many people aren’t familiar with this unique blend, but we also know that once you try it, you’ll love it. We’ve gathered some of the best tried-and-true recipes from around the web to help you get started using Herbs de Provence from The Lavender Farm at Woodstock.
We are pretty excited to be able to offer these wool dryer balls thanks to Red Barn Wool in Nancy, KY. Janella Miller and her family raise Shetland Sheep for wool and meat, and they work tirelessly to create these custom wool dryer balls. Red Barn Wool scents the balls with lavender from our farm to provide a subtle, natural scent! You can also purchase unscented dryer balls through the Miller Family.
When we first began experimenting with wool dryer balls, I was a bit of a skeptic. After one load, I was hooked! It took me a few loads to get used to the shortened drying time and know what to expect, but once I did, I became a big fan!
Here are some commonly asked questions about using dryer balls.
Q: Will I really be able to get rid of my dryer sheets?
A: Yes! Ditch them! You can even ditch liquid fabric softener. These balls provide the softening you need and save you money in the long run. Plus, they're natural and good for the environment and your family.
Q: Why are the so expensive?
A: These dryer balls are not mass produced. The sheep at Red Barn Wool are sheared by hand, the wool washed and carded by the Miller Family, and hand felted into these dryer balls. Likewise, lavender from our farm is harvested by hand, debudded and sifted by hand, and then placed (by hand...see a pattern here?) into each dryer ball. Even with all that, though, these dryer balls can last you up to 2 years or 1,000 loads of laundry, depending on laundry load size. When you look at it that way, you're saving a ton and using a product that you can feel great about at the same time!
Q: What size laundry load will these work on?
A: I've personally used dryer balls on large loads of laundry, but have found that they require between four and six balls. For a typical small to medium sized load, two balls should be sufficient. If you'd like to reduce your drying time more or have your items a bit softer, add one or two more balls.
Q: How do these work?
A: Wool naturally absorbs almost one third of its own weight in water, which is why these balls help shorten drying time. The balls tumble around in the dryer with your laundry and soak up excess water. They also keep your items separated from each other so that the heat can reach more surface area and dry them faster.
Q: Can I add fragrance?
A: Yes, but please do your own research. These dryer balls are lightly scented due to the lavender buds inside them. Once that smell begins to fade (which will happen over time), you can add a few drops of essential oil (2-3 drops...be sure to let them dry before putting them in with wet clothes). But, even without fragrance, your clothes will still be left fresh!
Q: Why are some of them different colors?
A: Shetland sheep at Red Barn Wool are a mix of colors! You can use any color balls with your laundry, although some people prefer to use dark balls for darker loads and light balls for light-colored loads. It's really a personal preference.
If you have any other questions about wool dryer balls, drop us a note and we'll get back with you! Happy laundry.
We were recently asked some questions for a research project and thought we'd share our responses in case others can benefit from them as well.
Q: Do you have a lot of success with lavender in this climate? Are the species you deal with good for Kentucky's climate and are they good producers?
A: Lavender is not well suited for Kentucky's climate. We can have rough winters and very wet springs, as well as high humidity. Those three things - ice, water, and humidity - are three of the things lavender hates most. However, many farms have found that they can successfully grow lavender here. Most of what we have done in the past has been trial and error. Growers in our area have to change their mindset in terms of the size of crop, as well as lifespan of the plants. It seems that with proper soil amendment and good luck when it comes to weather, plants in our area may last between five and eight years, but we have many challenges that others don't face. Seeing as how lavender is really just now being planted in Kentucky, we also have the chance to learn a lot about the crop and its potential here.
In 2013, we chose our first two varieties because they are popular varieties (Munstead, an English, also known as augustofolia, and Grosso, a Lavandula x intermedia) and are both fairly hearty to our climate. We could also source them locally. That turned out to be a bit of an issue, but we have grown and learned a lot since that our first planting! Many varieties we now plant are trails that we source from reputable growers across the nation. That's one reason we don't plant large plots, since we are unsure what will take to our climate and will last over the winter. What works well here may not work well 60 miles down the road. Each little microclimate is unique.
Q: Do you distill your own oil?
A: We do not currently distill our own oil. It takes a LOT of lavender to produce even a small amount of oil. We have around 600 plants currently. We do have plans to purchase a small still so we can do demonstrations on how to distill oil in the future.
Q: Do you profit as a tourist destination?
A: Many people find out about us and envision acres and acres of purple. That is not reality in Kentucky! We have about 600 plants. Prior to this year, we had them planted in long rows. Earlier this year, we planted several new plants and made our lower "field" a bit more square, with shorter rows. We are hoping by planting this way, the plants will be a bit more "showy" for guests. Most people, however, understand that we are trying to do something that is difficult and unique and they are understanding when they come out and realize our farm is not of a commercial farm scale like you'd find in Washington State or France. After all, 600 lavender plants is still stunning!
We do host events on the farm. That has been a big draw for us for sure. Lots of people want to see the lavender in bloom. Our season only lasts between four to six weeks, so you can imagine it is absolutely crazy during that time! My mom (Mary) and I (Allison) do this together pretty much on our own. I have two small kids as well. We try to balance work and life as much as we can, so our growth has been slow and steady instead of jumping in and planting an unmanageable amount of plants! We are actually really glad we started slow, because we've run into problems with our soil (that initial testing couldn't detect), plant issues, bad weather, and much more. We have also learned so much from the United States Lavenders Growers Association and other local lavender farmers. In our business, it truly has been community over competition for us. Other growers not only share knowledge and expertise, but sell products to each other, and support and encourage one another. We sure appreciate that aspect of this business!
Q: Do you have any suggestions for future lavender farmers?
A: My advice would be three-fold:
We are so excited for the 2018 Tea on the Farm! This year, we'll be having two 11 a.m. seatings for the event. One on May 19 and one on June 2.
For the past two years, we've felt like our English lavender varieties bloomed earlier than our on-farm teas, so this year, we decided to move it up to capture the peak blooms of those varieties (mainly Sachet, Munstead). Our French varieties (Grosso and Sharon Roberts) are later blooming, so hopefully they will follow the same pattern as past years and be perfect for the June 2 seating.
We are proud to partner with Expressions Tea and Gifts again this year for a SUPERB menu!
Lavender Tea at The Lavender Farm at Woodstock
May 19 @ 11 a.m.
June 2 @ 11 a.m.
For the past two years, our Tea on the Farm events have sold out quickly! You can purchase tickets now by visiting our store: https://www.kylavender.com/store/c4/tickets.
In addition to the teas, we are planning our second annual "You Cut" for Memorial Day weekend! In addition to being able to cut your own bundle, we are working hard on lining up a lavender festival for that Saturday, May 26. Watch our Facebook or Instagram pages to find out more as details become available. And...we're planning to nearly DOUBLE the number of plants we have in the ground this spring (we'll be doing a call for volunteer planters if you're interested in learning about growing lavender too!).
Now we just hope and pray Mother Nature is kind to us again this winter and these babies bloom beautifully again in 2018!
It's going to be busy around the farm in 2018. We look forward to seeing you in the field!
In Kentucky, lavender has a pretty short bloom time. On our farm, the blooms have opened, the bees have sucked out all the wonderful nectar they could, and the buds are turning brown. They still have quite a wonderful scent and we will soon be cutting what remains to use in our products. If you attended our tea, or came for our first "you cut" event, we hope you have enjoyed your beautiful, fresh lavender. If you haven't already, it's probably time to hang it upside down to let it dry out. Once it is dry, you can still enjoy it for many months! Dried lavender is not only beautiful, but also useful! Here are some of our top ideas for using dried lavender.
1. Turn your dried lavender bundle into a focal point in your home by simply putting it in a cute clear or painted mason jar tied with string or raffia. It's simple and perfect for bringing a touch of early summer into your home. You can lightly rub the buds between your fingers to reinvigorate the fresh lavender scent! (photo from pinterest).
2. Separate your dried lavender and tie it around a pillar candle. This would be so pretty on a long farmhouse table with several sizes of candles! (photo from pinterest).
3. Once your lavender has dried, you can easily debud it by using your hands. Just firmly (but not too firmly) rotate a small amount between your palms. Be sure you are holding it over a box or some type of container. Once debudded, you can put the dried buds in a small sack and store them in your drawers, or use them in a homemade recipe, like bath salt.
4. Wear it! Did you know lavender jewelry is a thing? It is! These little vials are just so cute and I can only imagine how nice it would smell to open up the lid and take in a deep breath of lavender when stress or headaches hit!
5. Make something to help you remember your time at The Lavender Farm at Woodstock! Use buds from your visit to fill an empty ornament you can hang each year on your Christmas tree. We do this with places we've visited and each year I love unwrapping each ornament and reliving the memories that come with it. A lavender ornament would be a great addition to your tree.
6. If you have culinary lavender, try a shortbread cookie recipe or lavender ice cream for a unique summer treat that is sure to wow your family or your guests!
7. Make your own tincture. While you may not have enough buds, not to mention the expensive equipment, needed to distill lavender essential oil, you can still make a tincture from your buds. Just crush your buds and place them in a tall bottle. You can then fill the bottle with vodka, witch hazel or lightly warmed oil (like almond, olive or sunflower) and let it sit for about 7 to 10 days. The longer it sits, the stronger the smell! After the desired amount of time, remove the buds and stalks and strain the oil through a cheesecloth. You can use the tincture in cleaning products, your bath or many other things.
We'd love to hear what you're crafting with your dried lavender. Please drop us a note to let us know, or better yet, share a photo with us on Instagram or Facebook. We love hearing from all you fellow lavender lovers!
I sat in my chair
unable to move
as if a twitch of my hand
or blink of my eye would
The moving cars
the city lights
blurred together like lines
in an out-of-focus picture.
The calmness of land,
the peaceful sound of
leaves crunching, gates opening,
quieted my mind.
The "objective" he said.
Somewhere among the years
we lost it. Like a kite string
let go by a three year old child
who cried then moved on to
unaware what was gone.
We lost the somewhere and replaced
it with the nowhere.
Why live among the bees, the snakes,
when you can live among the buildings,
the noise, the conveniences.
It's gone. It's lost.
Can we get it back? Do we care?
But, nowhere is somewhere to me.
Last week, I had the privilege of viewing a screening of "Look and See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry" at Lindsey Wilson College. If you don't know anything about Wendell Berry, you can find more here, but I can tell you that he is one of the most well-known agriculture poets and writers. He is a former professor who eventually returned home to his farm in Henry County, Kentucky, to work the land and raise his family. He's written numerous novels, poems, articles and more, most based around the defense of the family farm, traditional ways of life, and agriculture. The National Endowment for the Humanities states, "(Wendell Berry) is the sum of his beliefs. And those beliefs arise from a longstanding tradition most fully expressed in the American family farm, a self-sustaining economic enterprise that reinforced familial bonds and human obligations to the natural environment."
Berry has always been an advocate for the family farm and I was certainly moved by the film. (You can find the very moving intro on Facebook here...watch it...it's worth your time, I promise!)
As I watched it, I became emotional. It was interesting to hear others comment on the cinematography of the film, or the sequence and editing, because I could not have cared less about the technical aspects of the documentary. What resonated with me was the essence of the film - the loss of respect for small farms, the cycle and struggle with farming, and even the loss of identity in our small towns and communities. I'm anxious for my parents to watch the film, having both grown up with agriculture playing a vital role in their lives and then spending their own adult lives dedicated to the farm.
Overall, three themes from the film stuck out to me.
First, the "objective." If you watch the opening few minutes of the film (here), you get it. While the city is great, and I certainly enjoy some of the conveniences of it, the poem challenges the typical things we work and strive toward. There's one particular quote that states something to the effect of putting ourselves in the "highest paying prisons." Wow. That made me stop to think. For so many, it's about the career ladder - better job, more money, more things. It's a cycle that is hard to stop. I fall victim of that thinking as well, but is there another way?
The second theme that stood out is the notion of how we have disrespected the vocation of farming and the rural way of life. It's something we've done to ourselves. We've stated that we live in the "middle of nowhere" and we've asked young people why they would want to stay in rural communities when the cities have so much more to offer. We've encouraged generations to do better than their parents, to educate themselves more, to buy bigger homes and have smaller families, and to take on jobs that don't take a physical toil on their bodies. Let me preface this by saying that I am a huge proponent in education, having spent much of my off-the-farm career in the field, and I will always value it. I'm not saying we should encourage people to drop out of school or not pursue higher degrees, but I am saying that there is real value in the vocation of agriculture and in working with your hands. I'm also saying that our rural communities are rare gems that should be cherished, grown, celebrated and held to tightly.
Last, and probably most saddening, was the theme of helplessness. I left the film falling more in love with my agricultural roots, but also feeling like I couldn't do anything to turn around this loss of land and loss of value in the family farm. While I'd love to turn my entire life on its head and become more of a true small farmer, I really don't know how to do that. It's easy to dream about and think about, but it's hard to do. How do you invest in a traditional lifestyle on the farm, but still be mom, wife, and everything in between, as well as feed your family. Sure, I do a bit of it now, but it doesn't support my family and our daily financial needs.
Perhaps just sharing my raw thoughts, as I'm doing in this blog (and am pretty nervous to do, in fact), and exposing readers to the primal messages of the film, will do a tiny bit of educating. In turn, if those reading this will do the same, maybe we can make a difference. Can we can work toward a movement of appreciation - for the farmers around us, for local food and goods, for the land, and for those working to better our world?
I'm going to try. Will you join me?
The Lavender Farm at Woodstock
Just a mother/daughter team working with our families to bring a different, unique lavender experience to South Central Kentucky. We love the land, we love our farming heritage and we love lavender!