Serena Pelletier is one highly motivated gal! About 10 members of CGS were treated to her enthusiasm and tour of her newly planted lavender farm which she hopes will become her next vocation when she retires from Penguin/Random House.
On a trip to Montreal with her family a while back, Serena, who had been pondering what to do “next” toured a lavender farm there, and fell in love with the idea of having her own lavender farm. This was it! Eureka! She found the “next” thing in the rows and rows of lavender plants. Perhaps she fell under their seductive scent?
Serena and her husband put to good use the uncultivated land along the high power lines that run across her property, and with a lot of sweat, toil and maybe some blood and tears along the way, tilled the soil and planted rows and rows of lavender for a future crop. She has great plans to use the lavender she grows and harvests in a variety of ways- in potpourri, beauty products, honey and jams and jellies, decorative items like wreaths and other creative uses.
She told us she had planted 18 different varieties, after extensive research to learn which ones would do best in this area. We were able to see this venture nearly from the ground up as we walked along the precise, neat rows of raised beds planted with the pink, lavender, blue and white fragrant flowers. We learned that it takes three years for a lavender plant to reach full maturity although they blossom the first year. Several of us us were able to “harvest” a handful of lavender using her small scythe. The harvesting is done by hand so it is very labor intensive. Growing lavender must be a labor of love as it demands a lot of sweat equity to bring in the harvest.
We also learned that the French lavender so popular in those gorgeous photos of Provence we have all seen is really a cross between English lavender and Spanish lavender.
Serena told us that she has had little success in propagating most of the varieties but has had good results from the most well-known variety, Hidcote.
The cherry on the top of this fun and educational tour was Serena showing us the items she currently sells at farmers’ markets and her small gift to each of us, a tiny jar of jam she makes using a commercial kitchen in the area.
Some years ago, Richard Blosveren was her boss at Random House, where she is currently CEO of Operations. Richard and Carmen were in attendance and the tour made their reunion possible. The rest of us enjoyed watching them getting their pictures taken together.
We appreciate Diane Brown’s friendly contact with Serena at a local farmers’ market that made this tour a reality. We hope to tour Serene Lavender Farm again in a couple years to see how Serena’s lavender garden grows!
Ed.-Thank you to President Brenda Powell for contributing pictures to this report.