Over the weekend, Christopher and I woke up bright & early and headed west for one of our Summertime Adventures stops for 2012: U-pick lavender at Lavender Hill Farm. The farm, located in Niles, Michigan, is situated on 30 acres of land with rolling hills of lavender, several bee boxes for honey harvesting, a wildflower preserve, and even lambs.
To be honest, this was our most questionable adventure yet. When we pulled up to the farm, we thought about turning around because it was literally someone's backyard. We couldn't find any obvious parking spots or noticeable "U-PICK" signs like most U-pick farms, and from what we could see, the tufts of lavender seemed so sparse... hardly a 30 acre farm's worth. But what kind of adventure would it be if we gave up? We walked into the small basement shop (which smelled heavenly, by the way) where we were greeted and handed a twist tie and a pair of garden shears to pick to our hearts content.
Once we got into the field, I was happy to see that a quick walk up the hillside led to was a much larger area filled with lavender. My favorite variety was a deep purple English lavender with teeny little flowers. This past Saturday was the first week of the U-pick season, so half of the field wasn't even in bloom yet, which was a little disappointing. If you ever decide to take a visit, I would recommend going in July, when the long-stemmed and hybrid lavenders are available for picking.
There were honey bees and bumble bees everywhere. I've never been stung before, so I was a little afraid they would finally get me, but for the most part they minded their own business and I ended the day bee sting free. It was actually incredibly peaceful to hear the gentle buzz of the bees and the wind rustling through the plants. The bees helped us find the best lavender, too -- where they harvested nectar, the lavender blooms were abundant and fragrant. Thanks, bees.
One thing we learned from this trip is that Christopher hates the smell of lavender, and like any other manly man, he doesn't really care about flowers in general. This little adventure was definitely more enjoyable for me. He was a good sport, though, holding my bouquet as needed and taking photos to document our adventure.
We paid $5 for one large bunch of lavender, which ended up filling a large milk glass vase and a mason jar at home. Not too shabby. I also bought a packet of dried culinary lavender that I'm excited to experiment with in the kitchen. The trip was two hours round trip, and we only spent about an hour and a half picking the lavender, so I don't know if we will be repeating this particular adventure. Either way, it was definitely a unique (and fragrant) experience and I'm glad we went! (we also made a pitstop at Byler's Market... their fresh donuts make any road trip worthwhile!)
Chris and I have been working on a new list of adventures for this summer, combining the activities we missed last summer and adding in a few new ones -- let me know if you have any ideas for the Indiana/Michigan area!