Day Trippin' - Lavender farms perfect summer destination for homemade products, relaxing atmosphere

Karen Thornton
Special to the Rolla Daily News

After a visit to a lavender farm, I was very excited to try my hand at planting my own lavender garden. I hand tilled a very small area of soil, added mulch mixed with sand and dirt, and prepared my starter pots of lavender. I had only purchased four 6” starter pots. Within a couple of months they were spreading quite nicely.

Photo courtesy Karen Thornton

You would have never have guessed Missouri offers at least 10 lavender farms with new farms cropping up unexpectedly. Many of the lavender farms sell products and their lavender at local farmer’s markets as well as offer a selection of lavender in their own shops and online. Some have restaurants or cafés, and host festivals and events. Visiting a lavender farm is a delightful way to celebrate summer and most certainly should go on the calendar for your annual outing. Check online as season hours for each venue change.

Ozark Wylde Farm

Location & Info: Stover (Ozark Wylde Farm on Facebook)

Ozark Wylde Farm is a new lavender and botanical farm in the Lake of the Ozarks area. Opening an herb-based farm and business on her family’s cattle farm has been a long-held dream for proprietor Amy Wilson.

“I’ve thought about opening up some kind of farm store for a long time and have sort of pitched different ideas to my dad over time. Our farm is close to the highway (Hwy. 135 South) so it’s fairly accessible to the public,” says Amy. “Then I really got into gardening and fresh vegetables and herbs for health after a severe, but relatively brief, flare-up of my guttate psoriasis back in 2011/2012. Before and after the flare-up, I had ongoing minor issues with it. I was frustrated with the treatments, and started researching on my own and realized prevention really is worth an ounce of cure.”

“As a farm kid, I grew up gardening, but I became more interested in wellness and living a healthier lifestyle. To my dermatologist’s credit, she also led me to be more wary of chemical fragrances in skin care products, recommending fragrance-free lotions. But I like a nice scent as much as the next girl. It just all eventually evolved into wanting to do something with herbs, and lavender is in many ways the queen of aromatics. It’s so multi-functional and safe to use in both personal care products, and in food and beverages. It’s also an easier commercial crop to grow and sell because of the plant’s toughness and its usefulness when dried. You don’t have to sell it fresh so your product is less perishable,” Amy explained.

Lavender aromatherapy can ease anxiety and stress, which is believed to be linked to a number of related health benefits from improved mental cognition in college students to less agitation and improved mood for those suffering from dementia as well as headache and pain relief. Lavender oil has antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties making it good for burns and wound-healing, and generally good for skin. It is also a natural bug repellent. Culinary lavender can add a clean sweetness to both sweet and savory dishes. In addition to healthy antioxidants, it is believed lavender’s ursolic acid (also found in apples and some other herbs) may have health benefits from inhibiting cancer to helping the body burn more calories. Lavender’s anti-inflammatory compounds also help combat colitis.

Photo courtesy Karen Thornton

The dream to actually start a lavender farm really started to take shape in January 2020 when Amy made a leap of faith and ordered 2,000 lavender plants from a farm in Arizona. Little did she know then that she would end up opening a business in the midst of a pandemic.

The state of Missouri was just barely out of lockdown when Amy and her dad made the cross-country trip with masks, a cooler of food and lots of hand sanitizer to pick up the plants which include two varieties of English Lavender — Buena Vista and Royal Velvet — and two varieties of Dutch or French Hybrid Lavender — Grosso and Provence.

Agriculture waits for no man. The farm was a largely self-contained whirlwind of activity through most of 2020 from planting and watering to harvesting and pruning in order to make the farm’s first products by fall, opening the shop in December.

There’s still more to do and more dreams of expansion down the road, but Ozark Wylde items are available at the store/drying barn on the farm south of Stover. Dozens of personal care products from lavender pillows to face scrub are for sale. Culinary items include lavender-infused maple syrup (which come from trees on the farm), chocolate truffles, biscotti, spices and beverages.

Simplicity Lavender Farm

Location & Info: Washburn (www.simplicitylavenderfarm.com, 417-669-9844)

Just a little over three hours away, this farm is located on the Washburn Prairie in the Ozark Mountains. Simplicity Lavender Farm is a mini paradise. With 2,000 plants and 22 varieties of lavender, the farm is a popular tourist attraction and is truly a sight to behold.

You’ll find a farm store filled with all-natural products produced right on the farm, and a snack shack with lavender ice cream and many other lavender snacks and goodies. You’ll probably be greeted by their extremely friendly, gentle giant Great Dane, Coleman. 

Bloom season kicks off with a festival the first weekend in June (June 12). Guided tours, classes, and u-pick events are held the entire month.

The Lookout Farm

Location & Info: Rocheport (www.lavenderlookout.com, 573-418-3091)

This family run farm is located in what has been voted the “Best Tiny Town” in Missouri due to its Katy Trail access, award-winning restaurants, and unique B&Bs. Having started with five varieties of lavender in 2018, Lookout Farm will be in full bloom this spring.

The store offers essential oil, soaps, hand sanitizer, culinary lavender, herbal teas, lavender hot cocoa mix, bath salts, sprays, lip balm, candles and more. Future plans are to offer classes for a variety of creativity with lavender.

Rocheport is less than two hours away from the Lake area.  

Lavender Falls Farm

Location & Info: Clever (www.lavenderfallsfarm.com, 417-350-7570)  

About a two hour drive, this farm sits deep in the James River Basin where you can see a 300 foot waterfall meandering from the hillside. A family farm since 2013, their goal is simple — to provide the best and most holistic relaxation products in the Midwest. They are dedicated to using natural ingredients with sustainable agriculture to provide the best in care for the family.

There is a café at the farm, however, you will need reservations which can be made online. A barn on the property has been renovated, opening the extension of the farm to a café and a special shopping experience. Products include a full line of beauty products, sprays, scrubs and bath salts, and lavender-infused edible products such as balsamic glaze, honey, and simple syrup.

Long Row Lavender Farms

Location & Info: Wright City (www.longrowlavender.com)  

Established in 2009, this family owned and operated farm is nestled on 15 acres just an hour west of St. Louis. The cafe offers a variety of local coffee, tea and homemade desserts. Lunch is served daily from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. After lunch, grab a slice of Long Row Lavender’s signature lemon lavender bread and stroll the field.

In Missouri, lavender typically blooms early to mid June and is harvested by early July. The barn’s airy loft, designed to dry the harvested stems, provides the perfect backdrop for photos in late summer. Their gambrel style post and beam barn also houses a gift shop providing an affordable, upscale blend of home decor, items from local artists and handmade Long Row Lavender products. From lavender bug spray to best-selling body butter, a great line of items for men, and gift box sets, there are dozens of items for sale. Tea, honey, lemon-lavender bread mix, brownie mix and culinary lavender make for fun items to take home and share when you have company.

A rural Missouri setting provides the perfect backdrop for events. Located next to the cafe and gift shop, a private venue space is available to book for small gatherings. It is evident by the interactions with staff, that their goal is to bless the community through the farm and bring each guest an uplifting experience.

The farm is open from March 13-December 11 with seasonal hours Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. A good day to visit is June 5 when the 3rd annual Spring Maker’s Market features local artists, makers and food vendors.

Swank Lavender Farm

Location & Info: Seymour (www.www.ozarkian.com, 417-986-7928)

Also known as The Accidental Ozarkian, this is a relatively new family run farm. The family began to plant and use lavender oil personally for ailments as well as for its calming and relaxing abilities.

Logan Swank is the proprietor and keeper of the lavender, along with his wife, April. They moved from Illinois to Missouri and began their lavender planting. Swank planted Lavandula X intermedia, a hybrid plant from Pennsylvania. They say it’s humidity resistant and handles the Missouri summers well. Lavender hates moisture. They are trying to grow more English lavender, which is not quite as winter hardy.

In the month of June they host a “You Pick” on the farm. Guests may cut their own lavender and are charged according to their bundle size.

Lavender Facts

Lavender has been in documented use for over 2,500 years.

The most common lavender is Lavandula – known as a genus of 47 known species.

Lavenders flourish best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils in full sun.

There is a long history of lavender used for herbal medicine.

Lavender is most commonly used in aromatherapy, promoting calmness and wellness.

Crafting with lavender is endless and while you are deciding, use it in your bath.

Plant a Garden

If you have even a small bed of soil available, why don’t you try your hand at lavender? While lavender is beautiful to look at, it’s also easy to grow. One of the soil requirements is clay, shale and sandstone, just about right for our area. It is recommended for Missouri to plant in the fall.