April 4, 2012
My parents live in West Virginia, near the Maryland border. Their property sits on the site of an old tomato and melon farm. There was once a thriving tomato industry in their area but the local farmers could not compete with the big factory farms in California so they went out of business. Unfortunately, the farmers used chemical fertilizers which left the soil depleted of organic materials and nutrients and pretty poor. It has been siting fallow for about 20 years.
They said that nothing can grow there but offered to give me a small piece of land to try to grow something if I could, I saw it as a horticultural challenge.
I fell in love with lavender when I first visited the south of France and had the opportunity to visit lavender fields while it was in full bloom. My parents had seeded their property with wildflowers and registered their property as a wildflower farm and lavender seemed like a good fit. Lavender loves to be planted in well draining soil on a slope without many nutrients. It doesn’t need much maintenance, water, pest control or fertilizer and if planted correctly, can be maintained by mowing in between rows a couple of times a year. Turns out it loves it in the mountains of West Virginia where there are hot dry summers and lots of silty, rocky soil. It also tolerates being ignored by my parents. We planted a few thousand plants on mother’s day a few years ago and it has thrived.
While you spend the 4th chomping on hotdogs or fauxdawgs trying to keep cool, we spent the holiday weekends at our flower farm in West By God Virginia picking lavender from our fields in triple digit weather. Yea Haw! Our lavender is grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides and is perfect for use in your home or for cooking.
Here is a great recipe for Lavender Sorbet
The vodka in the recipe makes it very soft. It’s not the kind of iced dessert you scoop into an oversized waffle cone. It’s a slushy, uncooperative dish that, in small doses, will refresh your heat-addled senses. While this style of sorbet is similar to the palate cleansers served at high-end restaurants between courses, I like it as a mid-afternoon refresher on a scorching hot summer day.
Makes 4 very small servings
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1 heaping teaspoon fresh lavender flowers (food grade only*)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vodka
In a small sauce pan, dissolve sugar and water over medium heat.
Stir in lavender. Bring to a boil then quickly reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then strain lavender syrup through a fine sieve.
Stir in lemon juice and vodka.
If you have an ice cream maker, make the sorbet according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Otherwise, pour the syrup into a flat-bottomed glass dish, cover, and freeze until semi-solid. Break the sorbet up with a fork and freeze until solid. Place frozen sorbet in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Cover and refreeze until ready to serve.