As lavender hits peak bloom at local farms, celebrations take a new form
If there was ever a time for lavender – the purple plant known for its vast healing properties – 2020 may be it.
Lavender, an herb that is part of the mint family, has long been lauded as a homeopathic treatment for everything from reducing stress and insomnia to helping manage chronic pain. The National Institute of Health has even studied its benefits and found lavender has significant clinical potential though more testing needs to be done.
But COVID-19 and Michigan’s increasing infection rates have put a damper on lavender festivities just as it hits peak bloom in mid-July. Two local lavender festivals, the Original Michigan Lavender Festival and Blake Farms’ Lavender Festival, have canceled their in-person events, citing safety concerns.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get your lavender fix in other ways.
Indigo Lavender Farms, 631 N. Van Dyke in Imlay City, is offering U-Pick Lavender seven days a week until Aug. 2. It also has a recently opened retail store on site and offers walking tours Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
If you happen to be in northern Michigan, Lavender Hill Farm in Boyne City has 13,500 lavender plants in 25 varieties and also offers U-Pick lavender daily along with walking and golf cart tours. It also offers curbside pickup.
The popular Original Michigan Lavender Festival, meanwhile, is shifting to a virtual experience this year Aug. 13-15. Started in 2002, it draws thousands each year who come for lavender workshops, DIY presentations and to shop the artisans’ market. Instead, those presentations will be online and free to anyone who registers on the festival’s website, says Jennifer Vasich-Keene, the festival’s founder and director.
Vasich-Keene said it was an “incredibly difficult” decision to cancel their in-person event but safety comes first. The virtual presentations will be available through the end of September for viewing.
“We know how much attendees look forward to this peaceful event and the local artists and vendors,” said Vasich-Keene. “Fortunately we’ve figured out a way where everyone can still support these small business online.”
Presentations will range from how to grow lavender to how to use in different products like bath bombs. Lisa Evola, a local artist, will show viewers how to create lavender watercolor journal. Keith Wiley, also known as the Lavender Guy, will do a presentation on how to grow beautiful lavender in pots.
Next week, Vasich-Keene said she and her daughter plan to travel across Michigan to record presentations with various artists, growers and vendors.
At Blake Farms, meanwhile, its second lavender festival has been canceled but its Lovey’s Lavender Market, located in the farmhouse where the Blake children grew up, is now open. It offers a range of lavender-infused food, bath products and home decor. Lovey is the nickname of the Blake family matriarch, Elizabeth.
Blake Farms also is selling a lavender-infused beer, lemonade and hard cider for a limited time.
“Once we sell out, it’s gone until next year,” said Kaley Pittsley, Blake Farms’ marketing and events manager.
Blake’s also has some U-Pick lavender along with pre-cut lavender.
Pittsley said customers are disappointed Blake’s isn’t holding its festival this year but they’re understanding.
“They’re glad they can still come out, enjoy the outdoors and pick up some goodies,” said Pittsley. “We made the best call.”
- Indigo Lavender Farms: An Imlay City farm lavender farm offering U-Pick lavender until Aug. 2; they also have a retail store. Go to indigolavender.com or call (810) 417-0909.
- Original Michigan Lavender Festival Virtual Experience: Free virtual presentations Aug. 13-15 on lavender products, art, growing lavender and more. Giveaways on social media. Register at michiganlavenderfestival.net.
- Lovey’s Lavender Market at Blake Farms: Located in the farmhouse behind the Cider Mill at Blake’s in Armada, it has lavender-infused foods, bath products and home decor. Blake Farms also will be lavender-infused beer, cider and lemonade. Go to blakefarms.com for hours and location.
- Lavender Hill Farm: This Boyne City farm has 13,500 lavender plants in 25 varieties. It offers U-Pick and tours. Go to lavenderhillfarm.com.
- Lavender Lane: A Milan lavender farm that offers U-Cut lavender other lavender-infused home and health products. Go to lavenderlanemi.com.