SEQUIM — Like so many people seeking something to smile about during the COVID pandemic, mother-daughter team Katina Hester and Ashley Reddicks found some comfort in lavender, sweet peas and some fuzzy friends in fun hats.
Their Gnomelicious Lavender Farm at 258914 U.S. Highway 101, just west of Sequim, holds true with its namesake: gnomes are plentiful at the 10-acre farm.
“We wanted to have something fun and playful with a relaxed vibe,” Reddicks said of the aesthetic.
“They’re fun and adorable,” Hester added.
The mystical creatures can be found around the farm with visitors eligible to participate in a scavenger hunt to win a prize.
Possibly their biggest hit has been hand-sewn gnomes filled with lavender. Reddicks estimates she made about 500 in the last two years, and they were their biggest seller at the Sequim Lavender Festival’s Street Fair in 2022.
This year, the family has opened their farm for the first time during the summer to visitors to offer lavender products, farm tours, live music and demonstrations. The Sequim Lavender Weekend is this Friday through Sunday.
Gnomelicious features about 4,200 lavender plants in two fields — one by the highway entrance available for U-cut, and another behind a line of trees available for photo-ops — with 21 varieties in all.
Reddicks previously worked at B&B Family Farm for three years “learning pretty much everything about lavender that perfectly aligns with what we’re doing here,” she said.
They’ve also done a lot of research online and have collaborated with other farms and organizations, such as the United States Lavender Growers Association.
Gnomelicious is also the only local farm that’s with both the Sequim Lavender Experience and Sequim Lavender Growers Association.
The mother-daughter team say they visited their first lavender farm in Oregon years ago and rediscovered lavender again years later.
Hester said she’s always wanted to be a farmer, and moved to the Olympic Peninsula in 2018 from Louisiana after traveling in an Airstream travel trailer for two-plus years. She continues to work full-time remotely for a software firm while her daughter works full-time at the farm.
Reddicks said she fell in love with the national parks and the Pacific Northwest through social media.
Hester bought their property in 2019 and they originally called their business Back to Dirt Farm. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they reevaluated and changed their farm brand to Gnomelicious. (The Back to Dirt Farm side of their business sells sweet pea seeds grown on the farm.)
Reddicks became a fan of the sweet peas grown by Floret Flowers in Skagit County (Erin Benzakein) on social media a few years ago, and began exploring growing her own.
“They smell amazing and we have varieties that are hard to get in America,” she said.
Their sweet peas bloom June through October, Reddicks said, and visitors can come in the summer, see a variety they like, and purchase the seeds in the Gnomelicious store or online.
“The weather here is great for them,” she said.
“It also adds a little extra to the farm for people to look at, smell and enjoy.”
While the back lavender fields may be too young for U-cut, there are wildflowers and dahlias to see.
Reddicks said they plan to add two more greenhouse tunnels to grow additional sweet peas and try growing some other plants.
She and her mom also note they do not use chemicals on the farm, and they give a portion of their proceeds to the Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit that looks to conserve invertebrates and their habitats.
The family said they’re optimistic about their first year open to the public. They say it’ll take time to grow but they’ve set a busy summer with yoga sessions already taking place, and live music and an ice cream vendor coming during the Sequim Lavender Festival on Saturday.
Sweater Weather String Band will perform at noon on Saturday with NW Cold Treats on site. Jean Lenke and Steve Kirk perform at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, too.
Gnomelicious also offers free guided tours at 1 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through the summer, and the business plans to have a self-guided audio tour available that visitors can access by scanning a QR code to hear on phones.
The in-person and online store offers a wide array of homemade products, including oils they’ve distilled, bath and body products, eye pillows — and of course, gnomes. They also sell some local artisans’ products in the shop.
As they grow, the family members say they hope to return to the Street Fair in 2024.
Gnomelicious is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday through Aug. 27.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.