The Magical Herb . . .
Lavender's reputation is derived primarily from its smell. However, the herb is extremely versatile in cooking, cleaning & healing.
Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of 39 known species of flowering plants in the mint family, lamiaceae. The most common cultivar of lavender is English lavender (lavandula angustifolia). That is where we got our start with our initial 1200 plants.
Lavenders flourish best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils in full sun. The Loess Hills of Iowa were perfect for lavender as the loess dirt on a gentle slope naturally drains water. All types of lavender need good air circulation and little or no fertilizer. In areas of high humidity, root rot due to fungus infection can be a problem.
We originally planted almost all English lavender, with plans to start oil production. English lavender yields an essential oil with sweet overtones, and can be used in balms, salves, perfumes, cosmetics, and topical applications. We use oil only from English Lavender in the production of our bath and skin care products. The winter of 2014 delayed our oil production with the death of so many plants, it takes roughly 3 years for a plant to mature and produce a meaningful amount of oil through distillation.
Lavender essential oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used medically for centuries. Roman soldiers used lavender to dress battle wounds. In 16th century lavender was used as protection against the Plague, and Queen Elisabeth used lavender tea to treat her frequent migraines. Lavender oil is commonly used today as a home remedy for acne, insect bites, burns and head aches. Several studies have attempted to quantify lavender's relaxing effects and promotion of sleep (I wasn't able to find any information with conclusive results).
Lavender has many culinary applications as well. A savory flavor, it is most commonly used in flavoring tea and in herbes de Provence. Our most popular culinary application on the farm is in our lavender sugar cookies. Lavender yields abundant nectar and bees in the vicinity of lavender produce a unique and high quality honey. Our bee colony died last winter, we plan to establish a new hive hive next spring.
There are so many great applications for lavender. We encourage you to visit during any one of our many events and explore what lavender has to offer.