Hidden away in every small town are little treasures. Families and businesses plugging away at a love they have to make a living. Little hobby shops of crafters with talent. Small food producers with flavorful products. Farms with beautiful abundance. We are excited to introduce a series featuring these makers, crafters, farmers. Every week we will bring to you a new small business/product/family!
A little peek into their lives and their work. First on our interview list is Eagle Creek Lavender Farm. This beautiful farm is situated on 20 acres of beautiful country in Eagle Creek, Oregon. Bill and Mary Jabs are the owners of this beautiful farm. I first came to meet Bill and Mary through another lavender farm during our search for local lavender.
Loving to support local it just seemed wrong that our lavender in our teas was coming from France. France is a lovely place, don't get me wrong, but it certainly doesn't support our local economy and there is something to be said for quality as well. Lavender that comes from that kind of a distance just can't be as fresh as the lovely lavender we have been getting from Bill and Mary's farm in Eagle Creek, Oregon!
We have enjoyed getting to know Bill and Mary so much ourselves that we decided to share about them and their hidden treasure of a farm with you all. We interviwed them both so we could share with you.
Could you tell our readers a little bit about your farm and antique cars?
Bill’s passion for antique cars goes back to his teenage years, although he didn’t pursue it much until the past 15 years. The collection now consists of about 30 cars of many makes and models, with Model A Fords and Packard’s the most prevalent. Bill restores cars year around, and is constantly looking for that next gem.
What did you do prior to farming lavender? Mary was a high school teacher specializing in health sciences and Bill was a civil engineer.
What got your started in farming lavender? Bill wanted to be a farmer all is life, and Mary has a passion for landscaping and flowers, so we came together on the decision to grow lavender.
Share the process from planting to harvest, cleaning and the products you make. Lavender plants have a life span of 15 years, and take about 3 years to mature. All of our plants are on drip irrigation, so we are able to get optimal growth. If the plant is harvested for oil, it is hand harvested, put into a steel container and steam distilled to produce essential oil and lavender water, also known as hydrosol. Both are marketable products. Our Buena Vista variety yields two cuttings per year if irrigated, normally cut in July and September. Lavender cut for culinary and other dried product uses, is hand harvested in 1” bundles, hung upside down to dry for about one week, debudded and then cleaned. We have a unique debudding machine that came from Canada, and an old fashion seed cleaning machine which has been adapted for use in cleaning lavender. Cleaning consists of removing stems and leaves from the lavender buds. Future plans include developing a lavender harvesting machine to reduce dependency on labor, which is becoming more difficult to obtain.
Could you tell a us a little about what a day in the life of a lavender farmer looks like? Lavender farming is like any other farming, intensive in the spring and summer and less intensive in the late fall and winter. As soon as weather permits in the spring, we are preparing the ground for new plantings. Lavender starts usually arrive in April and are immediately planted. Once planted, we try to get the rows mulched with wood waste products and plant grass in between the rows. Weeding and mowing become extensive activities throughout the growing season. In our case, we have a lavender festival in late June, so we have lots of preparation to do to prepare our farm for guests. In 2017, we had about 1000 attendees in two days. Then in July and September, we harvest, distill, dry and process the lavender. We also have a winter open house and do some events away from the farm, so are constantly preparing product and filling orders. Farming also continues in the fall, with ground preparation and planting of a cover crop where lavender is to be planted the following spring.
How do you tell the different varieties of lavender apart? How many varieties do you plant? Are there different uses for different varieties? We have 12 varieties and some are easily distinguished by stem length and color, but we mark all rows to make sure we don’t get the varieties mixed up. Some varieties only produce one cutting, while others can produce up to three times per year. We have several blue and purple varieties, along with white and pink. Certain varieties are best for oil, dried bouquets, and/or culinary purposes. Our intent is to keep a balance, depending on what our clientele are looking for.
What type of growing conditions does lavender prefer? Lavender is a fairly hardy plant and can grow in varied conditions. It likes sunshine, free draining soil and needs to have the soil pH neutral or slightly basic. We use lots of lime to our soil to keep it “sweet”. Lavender also needs to be cut back each fall, or the plants will get “woody” and “floppy”. We trim each plant in the fall.
What type of products do you sell and where are they available? Eagle Creek Lavender has about 30 products, ranging from essential oil, to a line of bath and body products, dried lavender sachets and bundles, culinary lavender buds, neck and eye pillows and other products using our raw lavender products. We also sell honey from bees housed on our property. We sell both wholesale and retail during our festival, farm tour, holiday open house, various local market events and by individual appointments. We just opened our first retail outlet at Birch and Crow Vintage Market in Battleground, Washington, and are in the planning stages of online sales.
Thank you Bill and Mary! We enjoyed chatting and sharing a bit about Eagle Creek Lavender! We are so excited to have found such a lovely farm dedicated to high quality lavender. We were impressed with the fresh fragrance, the very very clean product and the flavor surpasses any other lavender that we have experienced.
To get more of Eagle Creek Lavender Farm and meet Bill and Mary make sure you hop on over to their website Eagle Creek Lavender or check out their lavender shoppe located at 27525 SE Starr Rd, Eagle Creek, Oregon 97022.
Want to snag some of our tea with this lovely lavender? Check out our Rose City Repose tea and Cascade Earl Grey blends.
Until next week, keep steeping it local!
Our yard is over taken with black berry leaves, here in Oregon they are invasive and usually a pain for many a land owner. They grow wild on the side of the road, they over take everything if not kept at bay. We have taken that problem and turned it into a solution by using them in one of our most popular teas. Check out this weeks YouTube video on how we use many of the wild edibles and weeds in our yard!
But first tea! This post may contain affiliate links. What's that you say?! Sometimes we share products that we love with you and those may pay us a little something to keep ye ol' farm a running, feed the children, teach them their arthimatic and the like. These links don't change the cost of the product. Read our full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting our family farm with your purchases!
When we first moved to the farm, three years ago, it was a newly constructed home which had replaced an older mobile home. The ground was very wet and muddy as happens in Oregon when the ground is being moved around for construction. There wasn't much growing on our property accept for blackberry vines- brambles - pokies - caneberries... pick your name of choice.
First on the list for the farm were goats! Goats are known for eating just about anything but they really do a number on brambles. As God would have it, there were two precious goats that needed a new home and we needed some goats!
Enter Lucy and Roscoe. These are/were our blackberry eating machines and they had an all you could eat buffet. If you are from the Northwest you understand that blackberries are rather invasive. They grow very fast, they cover absolutely everything and there is little chemical-free way to do them in. Goats are the best bet aside from burning them down. The goats were happy though!
You see though, these intrusive plants do have their upside. About August and September they produce a beautiful black, yummy berry. These berries are full of antioxidants, anti cancer properties, and they make lovely jams, jellies and pies. They are wonderful in smoothies and there is hardly a child in the pacific northwest who doesn't have memories of picking berries fresh off the vines... and then detaching the thorns from them and their clothing. But the little pain from the "pokies" is well worth the reward.
The berries don't stay around too long... their season is relatively short and with four little foragers those berries don't stand a chance! The leaves on the other hand are around for quite a while. They are currently budding as I type and wait anxiously for the return of fresh young leaves. Blackberry leaves contain many constituents: tannins, gallic acid, villiosin, starch and calcium oblate. According the the site Livestrong, they have been officially approved in Germany for use for inflammation of the mouth and throat as well as for acute diarrhea. They are also made into a tea, mouthwash and a gargling solution to help with gum issues and tooth ache.
Blackberry leaf may be made into washes, compresses and baths. It is used internally as tea, a capsule or extract. Its leaf is also slightly sweet allowing for it to be sprinkled on the top of other foods.
As this leaf is brewed, tea steeping time increases its sweetness. It is native to North America and Europe. In America, Oregon is the leading producer of blackberry leaf. (I believe it too! Really we have an acre of it!!) The berries contain dietary fiber, vitamin C, omega 3 and 6 fats.
According to the US National Library of Medicine (NCBI) blackberry leaf is anti-microbial, anti-cancer, anti-dysentery, anti-diabetic, anti-diarrheal and antioxidant. It has been traditionally used to treat whooping cough, blackberry juice used for colitis, tea from roots for labor pain and the leaves chewed for toothache. Traditionally it has also been used as an esophageal, to treat cervical and breast cancer, assist with anemia, regulate the menses, treat diarrhea and dysentery. An infusion made into a lotion could help psoriasis and scaly conditions of the skin. A gargle used to treat thrust and poultices for wounds and bruises as well as to help control minor bleeding.
As it turns out, this wild, thorny, intrusive plant can be quite helpful in a number of things! With a little pruning and control of this wonderful plant I think we can find quite a good many uses for it down on the farm. How about you? Do you see blackberry vines in a different light now? What use will you choose? I bet you can figure out how we will use it down on our TEA farm! Thanks for stopping by the farm and we hope to continue our herbal series featuring lovely, but maybe not commonly known, medicinal plants. If you are not blessed with this plant in your yard you may find the dried leaf here and blackberry root tincture here.
As always, this information is intended for educational purposes only. Please consult your physician for medical advice. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Please read our full medical disclaimer here.
Welcome to our Family Tea Farm!
Howdy from our farm to your home! It is said that the, "farm is the nursery of the family," and that "the family is the nursery of the nation." We hope you enjoy your visit to our blog as we share with you the happenings on our little "nursery". Thank you for following us on our journey and watching us GROW! Read more about our farm HERE.
Follow us on Instagram!