Lavender in the Cove offers unique experience
What began as a vacation for Jackie and Len Colvin to New Mexico to browse through and purchase beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces of Native American turquoise jewelry quickly turned into an infatuation with another color— lavender.
“That’s when the seed was planted in Jackie’s mind,” Len says.
For the Colvins, cultivating lavender and spreading the word about the benefits of this bloom has become a new passion and way of life. Their farm, Lavender in the Cove, officially began in 2022.
In 2014, the Colvins went on vacation to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The couple ended up visiting a lavender farm and fell in love.
Jackie, especially, was instantly hooked.
“It was definitely a destination we weren’t planning on discovering,” Jackie says.
When they returned home to King Cove from the trip, the couple decided they would like to have a lavender farm when they retire. They experimented with some different types of lavender plants for a while to figure out what they like and what will thrive best in the area.
One thing led to another and they both retired from their jobs in 2021. Jackie worked as a judicial assistant at the Jackson County Courthouse, and Len was the manager of safety operations at the Tennessee Valley Authority.
“I’m an old farm guy at heart anyway,” Len says. He was intrigued by the challenge of farming something not commonly found around here.
The Colvins dove right in to learning as much as they could about lavender and visited other farms to see how they operate. They even attended the Lavender Academy at a farm in Virginia.
“We learned so much, and we were so eager to get started once we got home,” Jackie says.
Returning home with several plants and knowledge about lavender benefits and products, they put about four varieties of lavender in the ground that year, totaling about 130 plants. When spring came, they planted 300 more.
“To our surprise, we came back from a trip and the lavender we had planted in the fall was just beautiful, so we thought we would host an open house to introduce Lavender in the Cove to the community,” Jackie says.
Their children spread the word about the event on social media, and about 250 people showed up over the weekend. People picked their own lavender and enjoyed the day. When the Colvins encountered people who had traveled from Georgia and Tennessee to check out their farm, they realized they have something special.
“To be honest, it’s really blown up and taken off. We are truly amazed at the response,” Jackie says.
Lavender is a unique plant that offers many benefits. It’s widely used for aromatherapy because of the calming affect it has on people. It has components that relieve anxiety, communicating with our nervous systems and brains to promote relaxation.
“You can be in the field with 20 people, but you’re in your own world. There just aren’t enough words to describe how wonderful lavender is,” Jackie says.
Since discovering all of the benefits of lavender, the Colvins have explored offering different products to visitors.
The products range from eye pillows infused with lavender, aromatherapy lotion bars, soaps, no-rinse hand wash, room spray, bug spray, pet spray, beard oil and more.
During their journey of learning about lavender, Jackie has begun including it in baked goods and lemonade.
“I wasn’t aware of the culinary aspect until I went to the Lavender Academy, but it’s really growing,” she says.
Scones, fudge, breads and shortbread cookies are among some of the edible products Jackie makes. She hopes to add varieties of culinary lavender to the farm to offer more products in the future.
Lavender plants have a short bloom cycle, which normally means they peak around the middle of June. While the peak blooms only last about two weeks, they usually continue to produce through July. The U-pick event will most likely happen during the peak bloom.
“After the peak is when we will harvest any of the remaining buds and dry them to use for bundles,” Len says.
In September, the plants will be pruned and shaped so they can take on new growth for the next year. While lavender does need certain pH soil conditions to thrive, once the plants are in the ground, they are relatively low-maintenance.
Stumbling across a lavender farm in New Mexico certainly wasn’t part of their original plan, but the Colvins are happy to bloom where they are planted.
“Up here where we live, we have a tremendous group of neighbors and support,” Jackie says. Whether asking for feedback on new products or spreading the word about events, they are thankful for their community.
“We’re going to let it grow as long as it’s going to grow and put it in God’s hands,” Len says.