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The sweet smell of lavender

Mother-daughter Mary May and Allison Horseman of Woodstock Lavender Co., Somerset, Kentucky. Photo: Tim Webb
Lisa Peterson and daughter, Addison, from Mississippi, pick lavender at the Woodstock Lavender Co. 2019 Festival in the Field. Photo: Tim Webb
Painting instructor Roni Gilpin, Waynesburg, leads a class at Woodstock Lavender Co. Photo: Tim Webb
Visitors at Woodstock Lavender Co.’s June 2019 Festival in the Field. Photo: Tim Webb
Jill Hart, Somerset, cuts a lavender bundle at the June 2019 Festival in the Field event. Photo: Tim Webb
Hand-cut sachets at one of the Woodstock Lavender Co. teas in Somerset. Photo: Woodstock Lavender Co.
Woodstock Lavender Co.’s handmade products are available from the online farm store. Photo: Woodstock Lavender Co.

Woodstock Lavender Co. near Somerset, Kentucky

When you think of purple fields of lavender, you probably think of France and the rest of Europe, but you might be surprised to learn there are several lavender farms sprinkled across Kentucky.

One of them is Woodstock Lavender Co. north of Somerset, served by South Kentucky RECC. After Allison Horseman and her husband moved back home, they fell in love with the land and with the history, heritage and tradition. A year later they had the opportunity to purchase 8 acres of her grandparents’ 350 acres that her dad farms.

She knew she wanted to do something to honor her fourth-generation agricultural roots. “I knew it wasn’t going to be traditional farming, such as combining at midnight,” says Horseman. With a small child at the time (she now has three), she says she wanted time to be a mom.

Horseman’s mom, Mary May, read in a Farm Credit cookbook about women who started growing lavender, and presented the idea to her. Horseman says this was something she and her mom could do together on their own, as her dad farms full time and her husband runs a business. So they decided to give it a try.

“In the spring of 2013 we planted 50 plants. We had no idea what we were doing,” says Horseman. “When I advise people now, I say never do that. It worked for us. The plants lived.”

The following year they planted 50 more plants.

“Then in 2015, we joined the United States Lavender Growers Association. We found out there were a lot more of us in Kentucky and our region,” Horseman says. “We learned about the varieties, the plants, how to care for the plants and increased our knowledge base.”

They planted 350 plants that year and later opened the farm to the public, after having a bunch of lavender that they enjoyed growing but were not doing anything with it.

“I met with Expressions Teas and Gifts here in Somerset. I had the idea of hosting a tea on the farm when the lavender was in bloom,” says Horseman. She says her mom wasn’t sure anyone would come all the way out to the farm to have tea, telling daughter, Allison, if they didn’t get 12 people they’d have to cancel it.

The agritourism business is born

“A couple of weeks after the tickets went on sell, we sold 50 quickly. That was our first go at agritourism,” says Horseman.

“From there, every year we ramped up and offered classes, multiple teas, the lavender festival for two years now and U-cut lavender.”

Last year’s Festival in the Field lavender event drew about 325 people, with an entry fee of $5 to cut your own lavender. “We make it one big party,” says Horseman.

“We have activities and food set up in both of our barns. We have bath salt blending or lavender wand making. We have activities, like wreath making or canvas painting, that you register for beforehand for a fee. We have food truck and lavender ice cream from 4 Generations (out of Stanford), lavender lemonade, and all of our products are for sale. We have live music from local musicians.” 

Even though there are a few lavender farms in Kentucky, it’s something different and unique she says. There’s space for kids to get out and run and enjoy things. “A lot of people bring their kids, and we see a lot of mother-daughters come, or girlfriend groups. Our field is not huge, but it’s still beautiful,” says Horseman.

“We have this honest love for agriculture and our family farm and for each other. We just love having people here and talking to people about what we’ve done,” she says.

Lavender growing season in Kentucky is pretty short, from May to mid-June. Horseman explains, “We cut it right at peak time, put it in our barn, bundle it and hang it in our barn and let it dry. Once it is dry, we de-bud it and that’s what we use in about half our products.”

Handcrafted lavender products

Woodstock Lavender Co. has about 20 products, designed Kentucky Proud and Appalachian Proud, which Horseman and her mom make in small, handcrafted batches at a community kitchen in Somerset.

“Everything we make is lavender, lavender mint, lavender honey. We make products for home, bath, body and kitchen,” says Horseman.

One of their top sellers is the Serenity Lavender Roll-on, an essential oil that has lavender buds in it. “A lot of people use it for stress relief, headache, sleep and to relax,” she says. “We also make an all-natural bug spray, it’s called Bye Bye Bugs Body Spray. That’s a big hit because it’s safe for kids of all ages. It has several different oils in it to help repel bugs, ticks, mosquitos and all sorts of pesky bugs.”

They also make lavender sachets, “the kind like your grandma had in her drawer. Those are a big hit,” Horseman says.

She says they are coming out with a couple of new products this year. “One is Gourmet Lavender Syrup that you can add to cocktails, lemonade and sweet tea. The other one, because everyone raves over our lavender lemonade, we’ve worked with a company and come up with a Lavender Lemonade Dry Mix.”

Horseman and her mom make lavender products year round, which are sold to approximately 40 stores wholesale around the country and to the public on their online farm store.

The lavender festival, normally held the second Saturday in June, along with classes and the four teas are canceled for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Woodstock Lavender Co. is offering reservations of 10 people per hour on Saturdays May 30, June 8 and June 13, and Sunday, June 14, for U-cut lavender at $5 per person; boxed lunches can be added for an additional $12. Products from the farm store can be ordered for pick up the day that you visit. To pre-register and purchase tickets online go to WoodstockLavender.com.

Woodstock Lavender Co.
13394 State Highway 39
Somerset, KY 42503
(859) 608-9117
WoodstockLavender.com
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