Lovely local lavender

To me, the thought of lavender always brings images of the south of France to mind – and a lovely vacation I spent there with my Mom in the late 1990s.

It’s time for me to change my thinking, though, because lavender is set to have a bigger presence as a homegrown Ontario crop as well.

Ontario farmers recently formed the Ontario Lavender Association and are excited about the potential of this crop as an exciting addition to agri-tourism in our province, says a recent story in The Grower.

John Kelly, Vice-President of Erie Commercialization and Innovation has been working with farmers and others in South Central Ontario Region (Norfolk, Elgin, Oxford, Middlesex and Brant Counties) to seek out new opportunities for agriculture in this area. He was instrumental in getting the new lavender organization up and running, and although there are farmers currently growing the crop, there are many unanswered questions about it.

Both English lavender and hybrid lavenders, called lavendins, can grow in Ontario, says The Grower, but most research into lavender has focused on growing the crop in warm, arid regions – like the south of France that I mentioned earlier.

Since our climate really couldn’t be further from that Mediterranean image, this means much of this knowledge isn’t really transferable to Ontario. For example, how will various varieties survive our winters? How can farmers manage this crop to help it thrive in our province?

Lavender can be turned into a multitude of beauty products like soaps, oils and lotions, as well as foods like jams, jellies and honeys.

Lavender Blue, located near the village of Sparta south east of London, is one example of an Ontario lavender farm – visit their website here, which is also where the photo comes from.

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