Mr Hensong and I were fortunate to be at the the lavender harvest of our friend and farmer, Wendy Gorton’s, Leaping Lavender Herb Farm in Murphy’s California. This farm is Wendy’s dream – to grow herbs and create a place of quiet and solace where people can refuel and recharge from the busyness of daily life.
This is Wendy’s first farm harvest gathering – a day of picking, hanging to dry, eating, making wreaths from freshly picked lavender, and hanging out on the porch with friends. I have to admit….it was also during our latest California heat wave so we showed up for the eating, wreath making, and hanging out!
What I learned gives me so much respect for the people who produce the lavender products I love. We had already visited Girl On The Hill lavender farm this season to learn about distilling essential oil and lavender hydrosol. From Wendy, I learned about what differentiates culinary lavender.
All lavender is edible but there are some varieties that are more flavorful for culinary use. Wendy has just started preparing her culinary lavender and the excitement this year is the first order from the local natural food store in Murphy’s. An exciting step!
Culinary lavender takes several steps of cleaning to remove any extra plant materials – until you get to the final product of just lavender buds to use in cooking and beverages. So producing culinary lavender is a BIG DEAL!
Lavender is related to mint, sage, marjoram, and thyme – so it can be used in cooking in the same manner as these herbs. Two of my favorite things to make are Lavender Lemonade and bundt or pound cakes with lavender added. Both are very easy and there are a myriad of recipes for your internet searching pleasure.
Wendy is dedicated to growing herbs that are chemical and pesticide-free. This goes against the general nature of lavender farming. It gave me pause when she pointed out that when flowers and herbs are grown with pesticides, we are inhaling them each time we breathe in the scent of a bouquet. My flower purchasing habits are changed forever!
Our day on the farm was slow and wonderful. I learned to make wreaths ( the first one I’ve created that didn’t fall apart) and we cooked dinner together; enjoying the food and company on the porch as the sun went down.
It was a bit sad when the time came to drive home to the San Francisco Bay Area from this slice of Sierra Nevada foothills paradise.
But, we know the road well and we will return.