Recently, Audrey and I went out to visit our lavender supplier’s local farm. We packed a picnic and sunglasses, then drove two hours out to Mullin, Texas to meet Marc, the owner of Xanadu Acres.
Upon arriving, we were greeted by Marc’s dog, Rocket, eager to meet us and barking up a storm. The day was bright, sunny, and hot. We got out of the car next to the fields and saw Marc, a tall, southern man with a head of white hair, covered by a brimmed sunhat. He sauntered over with a beaming face and proudly welcomed us to the farm.
It’s worth noting that Marc is the main lavender man in Texas. He is the president of the Texas Lavender Association, a non-profit corporation with the purpose of promoting research, education, growth, market development, and distribution of lavender and lavender products. With the lavender he grows, he makes edible juices, fragrant essential oils, soaps, wreaths, and bath salts. He sets up shop at local farmer’s markets with his wife and son, sells his products in several stores, and travels to other artisan shows throughout the year. They recently started slangin' our lavender candles as well!
We walked out, past the chicken coop, to the fields just behind the shed. And there it was! - rows upon rows of bright glorious lavender! They were all in different stages of harvest. Some were bushy and prime for cutting. Others already trimmed down to a small shrub. Marc would grab a sprig from each bush to talk to us about the visual and practical differences for each type. Each time we sniffed a bud, he would pinch the flower and hand it back to us with an eager smile. “NOW smell it!” Fun fact: Pressure helps to express the essential oil and boosts the smell way up. This applies to most herbs and peels. It’s like when your bartender twists the peel of an orange and rims the glass of your Old Fashioned. Marc would grab sprig after sprig and pinch flower after flower, each with an eager expression.
Looking off in the distance, he whistled and called out to the longhorns in the field beyond “HEY GIRLIE GIRLS! We walked back to the shed to grab the bucket o’ treats. Up until this point, Marc had been walking on his prosthetic leg in the midday heat. He switched over to his four-wheeler. Audrey hopped on too and they sped off. I took the slower route through wildflowers and snakes (possibly)! We met two of his pregnant longhorns and Jenny, close to the fence and waiting for snacks. Audrey grabbed some and stuck out her palm through the fence to hand feed. I also tossed a few over the fence. Rocket was clearly on a mission, running back and forth along the fence trying to chase down some treats for himself.
At the end of it all, we took a few pictures and traded notes for our upcoming aromatherapy workshop. Some clouds rolled in and it became much cooler (good fortune!) We found a nice spot to sit and enjoy our picnic. Really, there is no more satisfying way to end a workday… Looking back, we were really lucky. Summer harvest is now over and the next blooms won’t be until late Fall. Don’t let opportunities to learn pass you by. And always stop to smell the lavender!
- Zaid Gallo