Kristen Harris owns and runs Lavender Ridge with her husband, Mike Harris (also pictured). The farm is in full bloom now, and to celebrate before the harvest, they’re hosting the annual Purple Summer Festival this weekend on July 18 and 19, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday. Farm tours, live music, arts, crafts, food and drink are part of the fun. For more information, call 747-3222 or visit www.lavenderridgereno.com.
What is Lavender Ridge?
It’s a family-owned lavender farm that we distill and make essential oil and over 40 products and have a gift shop. And we have an events center also for parties and weddings and events. That’s new in the last year.
I saw you started serving wine and cheese on your patio.
Yes, we just acquired our beer and wine license, so on a daily basis we have beer, wine and cheese plates available. And we’re going to have a mini wedding fair out here August 20, with local vendors and restaurants. But this weekend we have some great musicians the 18th and 19th and about 25 local artists for Artown. We also have tours–two tours—of the distillation process each day, Saturday and Sunday. We’re going to have a cooking lavender segment. I do a lot of baking —scones and cookies and ice cream, lemonade and ice tea. It’s great on savory foods, but unfortunately I don’t cook a lot. Mike does a lot of salmon and barbecuing with the rub.
And is there a reason for the festival or just for fun?
It’s our harvest. The lavender harvest. We’ll be cutting and showing our distillation process, but the real heavy duty harvesting will be after the festival. Then the lavender will be back to being little green bushes.
It sounds like people who want to see blooming fields should get out there this week.
Yes, this is the week. The best week is right now because it’s all in bloom, and it looks fabulous. I think all of our rain this spring really helped.
Is there a particular lavender you grow?
The majority of our field is grosso for our oil distillation.
How did you come to be lavender farmers?
By chance, by going on vacation in New Zealand and seeing the fields over there in 2000. That’s where we got the idea. Came back, we had the property—this was our home for 10 years prior to doing our lavender farm. The house now is all a gift shop with all our products and giftware.
What happens on the farm tour?
Rene’ will give a brief description of how we got started, the history of lavender, what lavender is good for, what it’s used for. Then Mike will show them how the distillation process starts and finishes. It takes about a half hour, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. And between the two tours is the cooking demo. The music starts at 11 and goes to 8 p.m.
Are the farm tours available year round?
They are, but there’s not a lot to see year round. I do tours by appointment, and with tours, I serve lavender lemonade and shortbread cookies. But I try to do it June, July and August so they can see something. It’s not a lot of fun in February. So it’s a summer thing.
What does lavender need to thrive?
Full sun, good drainage and not a lot of water. It likes to dry out in between waterings. There’s a saying: It does not like wet feet. We’ve had such a mild summer. Usually it’s every day [watering[ to keep it upright, but we’ve had such a mild summer, it’s been like every other day. But we’ve got some heat coming on.