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Picture yourself walking through fields of sweet smelling lavender. Doesn’t it sound like a dream? Do you think it is something that can only occur in the fields of Provence? You’d be wrong! We went to a lavender farm in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
How The Farm Was Born
This all started in the early 2000’s when the owners bought a Christmas tree farm. They just wanted a place to board their two horses. Liking to be kept busy all the time, the husband, Troy, decided to buy 1500 lavender plants since his wife, Wendy, liked lavender. After a Labor Day weekend spent planting each individual plant by hand, it was off!
Starting with four cultivars (fancy name for species) they have since experimented with several more. It turns out that there is so much more than just English or French lavender! English lavender tends to be bluer and less fragrant – making it perfect for cooking. Yep, you can cook with lavender! French lavender tends to be more purple and a lot more fragrant – making it perfect for essential oils.
This entire trip started out because I caught a story in a national publication titled something like “5 places to see lavender that are not in France.” Having loved visiting tulip fields in Holland as a child, I realized that I had never visited a lavender field. Nothing like the present time to do so!
Hope Hill Lavender Farm is located in a fairly hidden spot in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. You can’t just be driving by and say, “Hey, look at all that pretty lavender!” Make sure you have a GPS with you.
This farm has really grown over the last decade. The owners widened the driveway and created more parking spots. We were surprised when we showed up to see a rather large crowd waiting for Wendy’s weekly farm tour. We paid our $5 and joined in. While usual tours include about a dozen or so people, this one was closer to 50! It turns out that I’m not the only one that had seen the story.
Any Time Is A Good Time To Visit – But Summer Shines
And we couldn’t have picked a better time to go if we had tried! The flowers peak in the middle of summer. While guests often call Wendy and ask whether the lavender is in bloom (leading to the phrase she inscribed on the back of her shirt “All About The Bloom”), she says that guests should ask instead whether the lavender is in full color. We went at the perfect time!
The farm takes its environmental role seriously. Outside of the fields, they have pollinator-friendly gardens. Bee hives are maintained nearby – they provide honey and help pollinate the lavender.
Over the next few months, Hope Hill Lavender Farm hopes to host new events, like cooking classes and other topics of interest to the public. Their store sells both locally crafted items and products created at the farm. Try some of their cookies or even a lavender ice cream. Your house will smell fabulous after you purchase a few items! Check out their upcoming events on their website.
Know Before You Go
- Bring $5 cash per person for the tour (faster to get tickets)
- Dress for the weather (everything is outdoors)
- Be on time if you’re taking the tour
- Wear appropriate (closed) shoes (this is a farm after all)
- Children are welcome (but young ones may get bored during the tour)
- The tour lasts about 1 1/2 hours
- Dogs on leashes are also welcome
This is not a huge farm but it is growing and the tour is informative. And more importantly, you don’t need to travel to France to see a field of fragrant lavender!
Curious if there are other lavender farms near you? The US Lavender Growers Association has a map you can access here (http://www.uslavender.org/map-of-member). It turns out that our local lavender farm is just a few miles away in Chapel Hill and they host Farm to Fork dinners featuring lavender! I’m excited to try one soon! Find out more about the local one here: http://lavenderoaks.farm/
I encourage you to visit a lavender farm near you – your sense of smell will thank you!
Check out these unusual Philadelphia sights if you’re in the area.
Annick, The Common Traveler