Lavender Farm Becomes Agritourism Stop

Growing lavender has turned into a business for one woman, as she makes and markets lavender essential oil, dried lavender and more.

| May/June 2015

  • Lavender flower bouquet on a wooden old bench.
    Photo by Fotolia/Anna-Mari West
  • Picking lavender on a Texas farm.
    Photo by Laurence Parent
  • Select the right variety of lavender for your location. It won’t be long before lavender will be all you’ll see.
    Photo by iStockphoto/krzych-34
  • Dried lavender bouquets sell well at farmers’ markets.
    Photo by iStockphoto/Andreas Kermann
  • Distilling lavender for essential oils may take time, but it will be worth it.
    Photo by Deborah Huso
  • For your next booth, try lavender sachets — perfect for filling closets and drawers with the flower’s soothing scent.
    Photo by Chuck Place

Julie Haushalter came to start a lavender farm on her 25-acre property near Weyers Cave, Virginia, quite by accident. “The lavender farm came about as a result of life,” she says about the now locally famous White Oak Lavender Farm. Before starting the farm, Haushalter had spent her career as a special needs teacher, then a school administrator, and then a campus pastor at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. As she watched others struggle with stressful life events, and she worked to cope with her own sister’s death from cancer, Haushalter began looking for natural ways to soothe life’s trials and anxieties.

She ultimately turned to the healing properties of lavender, which clinical trials have shown to be effective in calming stress. Haushalter says she knew the scent of lavender was not a cure-all, but it was indeed helpful in reducing anxiety levels in people dealing with grief and trauma.

“If someone can lower anxiety,” she says, “he or she can make better decisions in the moment.”

Haushalter decided to start growing some lavender of her own, and she began with 150 plants, selling the harvested buds, as well as products she made from lavender, at the nearby Harrisonburg Farmers’ Market. The business took off like wildfire, leading Haushalter to give up her day job and start growing and selling lavender to the public full time about six years ago.

She now grows 9,000 lavender plants in many varieties, hires area college students to help with harvests, and has a retail shop right on the farm.

“Some of the products in our store are made completely from scratch,” Haushalter says, “and we do all of our own bottling and labeling here.”

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