Purple Hill Lavender Farm, a Greasley family venture
A maturing crop of lavender is giving new meaning to the Purple Hills of Creemore. It is being grown by the Greasley family on their 6/7 Sideroad farm, Purple Hill Lavender Farm, which is open to the public during peak bloom.
There is a short window during which the 9,000 lavender plants on three acres are in full bloom, before it is harvested for drying and extracting oil.
This week, honey bees were busily working while the blooms last, taking the nectar back to the nearby hive for their first batch of lavender honey.
Retired lawyer Brian Greasley has lived on the 40-acre property for 30 years and said he never thought he would one day become a lavender farmer.
It was his youngest daughter Emma who had the idea to use the property for an agriculturally related entrepreneurship and sold everyone else on the idea of lavender.
“Just after I had ordered 3,000 plants, she comes home and tells me she’s moving to British Columbia,” said Brian with a chuckle.
Emma went west with her future husband Elliot Clatton, head coach for a Canadian national snowboard team but they came home in 2017 to get married amongst the lavender, as had her sister Jessica when she married Spencer Ridding.
With two weddings having taken place on the farm, Brian said it is a possibility they will open it to bookings but that is a plan for the future. For now, people can book photo shoots and visit during Saturdays while the blooms last.
The lavender farm is truly a family business with everyone pitching in for planting and harvesting. The oil is distilled on site using a copper still. About three pounds, or 50-60 plants, are needed to get 15 ml of oil.
The essential oil is the key ingredient in the skincare products that people desire and the growers have partnered with a number of small local product manufacturers tapping into their expertise in making candles, creams and soaps with their oils.
Six varieties of the perennial herb are grown on the farm, five English and one French. The French variety Grosso is highly coveted because it has a powerful scent and produces the most oil. The other varieties have their own distinct qualities, notably the Melissa which has a white flower and is ideal for culinary uses.
It turns out the rolling hills of Creemore are ideal for growing lavender. The hardy plant doesn’t mind the clay soil, does well with the good drainage provided by the sloping land and when under cover winters quite well.
Jessica said, while lavender has long been known for its therapeutic properties, new studies have shown that is also effective in reducing anxiety. It is used as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory and is associated with calming and relaxing.
Purple Hill Lavender Farm has just opened a retail store on-site, where they sell a number of lavender products, including sachets and eye pillows, dried bunches, oils, candles, soaps, creams and more.
Visit Purple Hill Lavender Farm this Saturday, July 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors are welcome to relax by the pond, take in the view and wander the trails.
Find them on Facebook and Instagram to check future openings. The farm is located at 7484 6/7 Sideroad Nottawasaga (take Collingwood Street out of Creemore and turn west onto the 6/7 Sideroad).