“The air was fragrant with a thousand trodden aromatic herbs, with fields of lavender…”(William C. Bryant).
Voyage to the largest island in the San Juans, just off the Northwest coast of Washington, on any summer day in mid -July and you will experience the aromatic and visual delight of fields in the peak of purpleness. This is lavender in full bloom. This is a “place of great gathering”, this is Pelindaba farm, https://www.pelindabalavender.com/
Pelindaba, owned and operated since 1999 by Stephen Robins, is a premier grower of certified organic lavender, hand-crafting their lavender products which are made with the essential oil, distilled on-site at the farm. They are the largest vertically integrated lavender operation in the country which translates into they do it all themselves; they grow the lavender, distill it into an essential oil, harvest it, and make all their products in-house. The only do lavender and they do it, very, very well.
At Pelindaba, they live by a certain ethos, one of sustainability. The farmland is a preserved open-space as well as agricultural land. The cutting fields, which grow 4-5 different varieties of lavender, is open to the public year-round. “Never locking the gates”, is Stephen’s philosophy for this communal spirit invites anyone to walk the fields or picnic on the benches while soaking in the healing vibrations of these pretty purple plants. Weddings and private functions are held in the fields which are also open to painters and photographers alike, of all degrees, for inspiration and any artistic activities. Any time of year is splendid to visit these fields on San Juan Island but in mid-summer, at the height of blooming, the flowers and fields are purely magical.
Just to the left of the gravel drive as you enter the farm, is the Gatehouse. It stands a charming, white farmhouse which became the first retail store in 2001, for all the Pelindaba products. Walking up the steps to the Gatehouse, you walk through what is termed the Demonstration Garden. In here, more than 50 types of lavender grow, with the intention to show the wide diversity of this plant.
Behind the Gatehouse are educational exhibits including a hands-on distillery area. A second tier to the Pelindaba ethos is education and a sense of responsibility, a giving back to the community be it a county wide community or a world-wide one. As Stephen stated, “by doing good in the community in which we live, we are doing good by the world”.
So, what makes lavender so popular to the aficionado as well as the newcomer? It has universal appeal. Lavender has been written about for centuries in prose and poetry, giving it a sentimental air, and can be found as a fundamental staple to the quintessential Shakespearean garden. From the garden to the plate, lavender is widely used in culinary dishes for both flavor and decoration. Its oil has been used for hundreds of years to remedy all sorts of maladies from sore muscles, insomnia, and tension headaches to nervous conditions and anxiety. The chemical components of lavender, such as linalool, not only provide antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties but also have shown to be analgesic for pain relief. Lavender is safe for all ages and pets too!
Besides being an environmental and sustainable crop that requires very little resources, it is a versatile, non-toxic product for almost anything that ails you, and it can be found 100% certified organic, made by Pelindaba. In 2004, Pelindaba expanded their retail presence off the farm and into the neighboring community of Friday Harbor. Today there are stores throughout Western Washington as well as Oregon, Colorado, California, Illinois, Florida, and Hawaii. Throughout it all; the years, the growth, the ups and the downs, Pelindaba has continued to maintain its vision and the vision of its creator Stephen Robins, “to do well by our island environment – physically, economically and culturally.” It is a great gathering of crops and a place for great gatherings of people. It is Pelindaba.
To read more on the inception and concepts of Pelindaba Lavender farm or to find a store location, please visit their website at www.pelindabalavender.com.
For further information on visiting the San Juan islands please contact the San Juan Visitors Bureau at www.visitsanjuans.com.