Going into its 15th year, the Sequim Lavender Festival sees some different faces stepping into the limelight.
Niche or smaller-sized lavender farmers are running a “U-Pick, U-Tour, U-Free Admission to Farms and Street Fair” promotion.
Farms on the free Sequim Lavender Festival’s self-guided tour are Blackberry Forest, The Lavender Connection, Lost Mountain Lavender, Martha Lane Lavender, Nelson’s Duck Pond & Lavender Farm, Oliver’s Lavender Farm and Peninsula Nurseries.
The emphasis, said Mary Jendrucko, festival executive director, is to promote these farms and show their viability.
Amy Lundstrom, co-owner of Nelson’s Duck Pond, said lavender farming is possible for people to do in their garden even if they don’t have five acres.
“In the past, the Sequim Lavender Growers Association, operators of the Lavender Festival have advertised only the bigger farms,” Lundstrom said. “This year smaller farms are getting a lot more attention. I’m finding a lot of people have never heard about us, but we’ve been here since 1998.”
She said the farm that she and her husband bought from her parents in 2009 has been open for free during lavender weekend since joining the Sequim Lavender Growers Association.
Lundstrom said they have a booth at the Street Fair on Fir Street and see about 1,000 people over the weekend. She anticipates much more to come in a few weeks.
Festival farms say parking won’t be a problem because they have people to direct traffic and overflow available in different areas through agreements with neighbors.
The poor winter conditions killed some lavender plants at Nelson’s Duck Pond and Mike and Julie Ingram’s Martha Lane Lavender but they seem optimistic.
“We will have some more lavender in bloom this week,” Ingram said. “People who visit are always astonished by how purple and beautiful this is. Even in the early bloomers you can see a purple haze.”
Lundstrom said her 1,300 lavender plants normally bloom two weeks later than everyone else’s because of their location and her family harvests two weeks after that.
“We’re praying for 80-degree weather over the next two weeks,” Lundstrom said.
She said at the minimum for visitors they’ll have plenty of product, bundles and some U-pick available.
The Ingrams planted their lavender in the fall of 2005 and now have 6,000-6,500 plants total between their properties. Mike said their business has gotten bigger every year. This year they’ve expanded with a new gift shop, adding classes for lavender product making and recently received their organic farm certification.
“We’re doing our best to make this a great experience,” Julie said.
They attribute some of their success to fellow farmers like Rick and Susan Olson of The Lavender Connection who helped them when they purchased the farm.
“We’ve gotten that quite a lot in our association,” Julie said. “I feel a really good support from everyone.”
Another aspect of the lavender festival will be its incorporation of helping Charity through Commerce, such as nonprofits being intertwined at the Street Fair. Farms are doing the same thing, such as Lundstrom offering a booth to the Korean Women’s Association and proceeds from SLGA merchandise benefiting them.