USLGA Conference 2017

USLGA Conference 2017

You know you’re in good company when you attend the US Lavender Growers Conference! This weekend I was able to attend the conference along with over 200 other lavender enthusiasts in Mesa, Arizona, each with their own story and beginning. Men and women from all walks of life with lavender farms scattered throughout the states and overseas. Entrepreneurs, gardeners, herbalists, culinary artists, masterful producers of so many lavender products all very familiar with the labor intensive work of farming lavender.

Highlights include

  • An 8 hr. workshop tasting and smelling lavender with Mesha Munyan, an award winning designer of natural perfumes, and Chris Mulder, the creator of an extensive line of delicious lavender goodies.
  • Purchasing the very last signed copy of the popular cookbook “The Art of Cooking with Lavender” by Nancy Baggett.
  • Talking with the creator of the microwave distiller, David Hackleman. (I hope some of that inventive spirit will rub off!)
  • Classes on propagating lavender, phytophthora, agritourism, marketing strategies for farms, all taught by industry gurus.
  • Securing lavender plugs straight from New Zealand. (I can’t wait to bring some of New Zealand to Wisconsin!)

Best of all, catching up with our ‘lavender growing’ friends in Michigan and making connections with so many new friends! Lavender Season 2017 here we come!

Great Lakes Lavender Conference

What do you do when you are charting new territory growing lavender in the midwest? Two words…Lavender Conference! Meet Wynne Wright, an Associate Professor & Extension Specialist at MSU and Colleen Matts, an up’n coming chef and organic farm to kitchen guru. These amazing ladies are innovators in the world of lavender. In addition to the extremely valuable networking connections made (shout out to you–my Hawaiian friend Amy), highlights of the conference included a visit and tour of the Allen Market Place in Lansing and a very tasty lavender lunch catered by Colleen Matts. On the menu…a vibrant farm fresh salad with butternut squash and lavender pecans, a peppered lavender beef tenderloin sandwich, and for dessert, chocolate lavender cupcakes and lavender profiteroles. I like lavender…but I never knew it could TASTE SO GOOD!

Try it!

Lavender Vanilla Sugar

2 cups granulated sugar

1 TBS dried culinary lavender buds

In a spice grinder, pulse the lavender with 1 TBS of the sugar until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining sugar. Transfer to a jar, cover tightly and let stand for at least 3 days before using.

Sweet Baby lavender!

Sweet Baby lavender!

It has been said that winter in Wisconsin doesn’t really end until early April. That may be true. Weeks of cold grey sky and muddy sheets of snow slush gives new meaning to the doldrums of Wisconsin. There comes a point in time when I think everyone has had enough of winter.

But not today on the farm. With the arrival of 172 baby lavender plants, spring is literally just around the corner. This year’s new additions will include Violet Intrigue, Peter Pan, Melissa, and Sharon Roberts. All lavendula angustafolia. Winter’s not so bad when you have fresh lavender in your kitchen–smells delightful!