SEQUIM — When it comes to entertaining people of all ages, Melissa and David Herbelin are seasoned pros. For 30-plus years, Melissa worked for Disney. David worked as a theme park performer for 20-plus years.
Now they’re bringing a wide-range of interests together with their Old Barn Lavender Company.
“We wanted a place people feel they could be a part of,” Melissa said.
Sitting off Old Olympic Highway just outside the City of Sequim at 9785 Old Olympic Highway, the Herbelins’ farm features U-cut lavender, homemade lavender products, lavender lemonade, animals and games for all ages.
Its regular hours through Sept. 4 are noon to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The new business also will be in bloom for the Sequim Lavender Weekend on July 21-23, with hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Melissa said the couple followed David’s parents to Sequim, and once here, they had their property in escrow within four days of visiting in 2017.
“The house could’ve been a dump and we still would’ve bought it for the barn,” she said.
The couple had lived in Southern California their whole lives and wanted to escape the heat. They said they fell in love with the sights and small-town feel.
They continued to work in California, operating an escape room in Anaheim and a summer camp program for various cities. David moved to Sequim in 2021 to begin work as Olympic Theatre Arts’ executive director, and Melissa moved in 2022 while still working for Disney.
She worked for the company for 33 years after starting at Disneyland as a dancer in her teens.
Her last job, until June, was as entertainment manager for parade floats in California Adventure and Disneyland.
“I worked in every department, so I was done,” she said.
“I was traveling back and forth, and I like that there’s less traffic here. It’s four minutes to get anywhere in town.”
Growing lavender bloomed as an idea during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With their employment largely shut down, they felt lavender could be something to pass the time so they purchased 1,600 lavender plants from Victor Gonzalez in five varieties.
Admittedly, Melissa said they had no experience with the plant, but they’ve embraced learning, harvesting and distilling it.
Last summer, David discovered how kind the Sequim community can be.
At an Olympic Theatre Arts rehearsal, he showed up in overalls, and cast and crew asked why. He said it’s because he was working in their lavender fields as it all bloomed at once, so he and Melissa were harvesting it by themselves.
Unprompted, they asked the Herbelins if they needed help. David agreed, and for the next two days, about 15 cast and crew members helped harvest 1,600 lavender plants.
They also helped install drying racks for their lavender, Melissa said.
“It’s such an amazing community here,” she said.
With the moniker Old Barn Lavender Company, the barn is the main attraction of the property. Melissa said county records date it to 1980, but she figures that’s when it was remodeled as neighbors told her it was built around 1910 for a cattle ranch.
Outside of the barn on the west side is a picnic table surrounded by lavender for photo-ops and relaxing. On the east side are more chairs and goats, chickens and a Koi pond.
Inside the barn to the immediate right is the gift shop with products Melissa has made, including oils she distilled, hydrosol, decorative soaps and candles.
The Herbelins plan to bring in bees next year from Miss Bee Haven Apiary to help with their lavender, and for now, they’ll sell honey from their hives with plans to make Old Barn Lavender Company honey, Melissa said.
During the summer, they plan to sell lavender lemonade, too.
For the family members who may not prefer to cut lavender, the Herbelins offer a pool table and arcade with more than a dozen pinball machines and video games.
Loads of lavender
Old Barn Lavender Company’s lavender is available for U-cut in five varieties.
The couple joined the Sequim Lavender Experience, finding partnerships and learning some of the ins and outs of the business from fellow owners of lavender farms such as B&B Family Farm, Fleurish Lavender of Lost Mountain and Lavender Connection.
Similar to their own goal to make people feel welcome, that’s what the fellow farmers have done, Melissa said.
“Everyone was so helpful,” she said.
In Anaheim, escape room businesses worked collaboratively, Melissa said, as they’d all refer each other to the next one because they’re all different. She finds that here, too.
Old Barn Lavender Company’s products can also be found in Sequim at Mountainside Mail and Gifts at 1400 W. Washington St., and some of their lavender is used in baked goods at Fort Worden in Port Townsend.
For more information, visit Oldbarnlavendercompany.com.