SEQUIM — There’s plenty of room for social distancing in Sequim’s lavender fields, farmers say.
With purples and pinks blooming across the area this month, many local lavender farms are in full swing — or soon will be — for an anticipated low-key summer.
All lavender farms will require masks in their farms stores and a few in their fields, too, as farmers abide by state mandates for face coverings and extra sanitary measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The annual Sequim Lavender Weekend was canceled because of virus concerns, but many farms are gearing up for a special weekend July 17-19, the traditional date of the weekend.
No vendors or music are permitted; those are not allowed until a county is in Phase 3, and Clallam County is in Phase 2. But food and goods associated with the individual farms can be sold.
No farms interviewed plan to charge admission this year.
It’s so far, so good at B&B Lavender Farm, co-owner Kristy Hilliker said.
“We’re happy to have the visitors,” she said. “People have been really respectful. If they don’t have (on a face covering) and see us or others with them on, they’ll go back to their car and get them on. I’ve been so grateful.”
Farm staff ask visitors to wear masks inside their store and during tours, and they recommend them in the fields along with distancing themselves at least 6 feet. Like many farms, they offer curbside pickup and/or online ordering.
B&B Lavender Farm typically opens in May, but they opened this year on June 1, Hilliker said. Retail sales are down an estimated 30 percent from normal, but Hilliker said she expected a bigger dip.
“We’re thrilled,” she said. “The income is obviously fantastic. We’re also trying to be extra cautious. A lot of people in one place (right now) is not a good thing, but I think everyone has been super respectful.”
Susan Steffes, who bought and renamed Fleurish Lavender of Lost Mountain last year with her husband, Doug Falhlgren, said people have been respectful about wearing a mask in their gift shop, too.
Traffic has been consistent, she said, but she’s not sure what to expect on the traditional Lavender Weekend dates.
Vickie Oen, general manager at Purple Haze Lavender Farm, said “the switch turned on for traffic” to find the farm on Bell Bottom Road in the last two weeks.
She said provisions are in place for masks in the farm store and the downtown Sequim shop while she finds “lavender farms are great for social distancing.”
In recent years, the farm has hosted its own event during Sequim Lavender Weekend called Purple Haze Daze, but Oen said they’re taking a year off.
“(We’re) not expecting as many people during that weekend like Purple Haze Daze, but it’ll be your typical summer weekend,” Oen said.
For the third year, owners of Washington Lavender on Finn Hall Road will host a two-week Washington Lavender Festival.
Saturday begins the festival, which will run through July 19.
Co-owner Janet Abbott said they’ve modified it because of state regulations, but staples such as lavender ice cream and U-pick lavender remain.
Abbott encourages people to shop in advance at shop.georgewashingtoninn.com so it’ll be ready for them at the window behind the store’s cash register when they are able to visit the farm.
She said they’ve seen a small but steady stream of visitors so far. Visitors to the farm and those staying at the George Washington Inn are picking up.
“It’s better than it has been in recent months,” Abbott said.
The Lavender Connection, a farm off Cays Road, is taking reservations to protect customers and allow time to clean.
“We felt this was the best way customers could have the best experience,” said co-owner Rebecca Olson.
“When they go in the store or do U-cut (lavender), we feel we can easily sanitize for them.”
Visitors are asked to fill out a form at www.lavenderconnection.com to book a free visit.
Olson said with COVID-19 regulations in place, they don’t anticipate as many customers as they would during a typical summer.
“The people who do come will have a good time,” she said. “And, if they have a family member who is immune-compromised, they can have the farm to themselves.
“It should feel like a special appointment.”
Per tradition, the farm will continue to give free bundles to veterans, but they must schedule a free appointment first.
Street Fair postponed
Many of the farms with the Sequim Lavender Festival, a part of the traditional Sequim Lavender Weekend, plan to open in some capacity, but organizers of the festival postponed the Street Fair in Carrie Blake Community Park to 2021 for its 24th year.
Community events during Lavender Weekend, such as Art Jam, Olympic Driftwood Sculptors’ show and the Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club’s Quilt Show, also have been canceled or postponed.
Although it was part of a tour in past years, Blackberry Forest is closed while Fat Cat Garden & Gifts is open but not part of a tour.
Earth Muffin Lavender on Woodcock Road closed indefinitely, its owner said.
Peninsula Nursery’s owners said it closed to the public on July 4, and it will move into a three-days-a-week operation at its nursery and not fully reopen until next spring. For more information on visits, call 360-681-7953.
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 [email protected].