Gasps and wide eyes are in season at Red Oak Lavender Farm in Dahlonega.
“I get a kick out of seeing people walk through our doors for the first time,” David Duffey, co-owner of the farm said. “They just lose their minds. It’s like they hit the lavender gold mine.”
Fifth-annual Red Oak Lavender Festival
When: 1 to 5 p.m. June 15
Where: 2882 Red Oak Flats Road, Dahlonega
More info: www.redoaklavender.com
How much: $5
People can revel in all things lavender during the farm’s fifth-annual lavender festival on Saturday, June 15 at 2882 Red Oak Flats Road in Dahlonega.
To space out the influx of guests, people must sign up for either the 8 a.m. to noon or 1-5 p.m. time slot. Tickets cost $5 per person, and children get in free.
Tina Duffey, the farm’s founder and co-owner, said the festival includes live entertainment from Faires Quartet, Pickxen and Jason Hanline.
About 20 local painters, photographers, jewelry makers and other artisans will sell their wares and artwork on the farm. For an extra price, visitors can make lavender halos, mix bath salts and make flower bud necklaces.
Food will be available at the festival, including lavender ice-cream, lavender lemonade and a barbecue food truck.
Tina said she limits the amount of people who can pick their own lavender to just around 100 for the whole festival. Those spots have already been reserved. This cut-off protects the lavender from becoming damaged. With large numbers picking the lavender, the chance for improper harvesting increases.
“We have to make sure that people are cutting the lavender in the right place,” Tina said. “If they cut it too far down, it can kill the plant.”
A couple of rows of lavender remain unharvested to ensure photo opportunities for people.
Tina encourages those interested in attending the festival to grab their tickets as soon as possible, as only a few spots remain open. If people don’t make it to the event, the farm is open to the public 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Tina said around 2,000 people attend the festival every year. With every event, she looks forward to helping people make memories.
“That’s what life is about,” Tina said. “It’s about giving back and it’s about taking the time out with your family and friends, and making those special moments. Because, me being a widow, I know.”
For the Duffeys, running the farm is a 24/7 job.
They have 2,000 plants representing 20 varieties of lavender, and because lavender naturally prefers a Medditeranean climate, Tina said she is forced to alter the plants’ surroundings in order to sustain her crop.
“Climate is the biggest challenge with growing the lavender,” she said. “It’s the Georgia soil, the humidity and the rain.”
The Duffeys add sand and rock to their soil, and form tall mounds to keep the lavender roots as high as possible. Tina said it’s necessary because lavender roots “don’t like getting wet.” Each plant is spaced out to maintain airflow, which helps counter the humidity.
While some of the lavender varieties only remain in bloom for the summer, provence and culinary lavender are harvested until September or October.
Tina said she didn’t know much about lavender until she started growing large quantities of it in May 2014. She invested $1,000 into her first plants and four months later sold her first bundles at her local farmers market.
She now has 2.5 acres of lavender and a gift shop packed with her own handmade products and items from local crafters. The Duffeys sell their lavender to nearby restaurants, brides wanting the flowers in their weddings, small businesses and individuals who visit the farm or purchase items from their website.
Third-annual Lavender in the Mountains Farm Day
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 15
Where: 176 Bugle Drive, Cleveland
More info: www.lavenderlambfarm.com
How much: Admission starts at $20 per vehicle
June is the only month the Duffeys charge people $5 for admittance. All of the profit from the entrance fees go back into the farm’s maintenance and operations.
The Duffeys said all of the visitors make the challenges of working and living on a lavender farm worth it.
Tina will never forget one lady who stopped by after becoming diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
“She was out here for an hour on a weekday when it was quiet,” Tina said. “She was able to relax and collect her thoughts. She came up and told me that she was OK now. The lavender helped her with that. People like her is why we work so hard here.”
To purchase a ticket for the lavender festival visit redoaklavender.com or Red Oak Lavender Farm’s Facebook page. For more information about the event contact Tina Duffey at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 706-974-8230.
Lavender Lamb Farm, which is located at 176 Bugle Drive in Cleveland, will also hold a lavender festival on Saturday, June 15. The third annual event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and people can get tickets by visiting lavenderlambfarm.com.