SEQUIM — The heat wave at the end of June was hard on people and animals but good for lavender.
Farmers say their lavender, a drought-tolerant plant that thrives in Sequim’s rainshadow, kicked into bloom overdrive.
Susan Fahlgren, owner of Fleurish Lavender of Lost Mountain at 1541 Taylor Cutoff Road, said seeing her field change so quickly was “crazy.”
“Before the heat wave, I was looking at the calendar, and we were just starting to harvest some English lavender, which was about two weeks behind from last year,” she said.
“We had the heat wave and everything jumped ahead by about four weeks of normal, which really caught us off guard.”
Harvesting is good and part of the process, Fahlgren, said, but a lot of lavender will be harvested by Sequim Lavender Weekend, which is this coming Friday through Sunday.
Rebecca Olson, co-owner of Lavender Connection, 1141 Cays Road, said it feels a little early to be harvesting.
“Last week we just had one variety blooming, but now half the field is blooming,” she said.
A sudden heat change and moving on from the pandemic doesn’t have farmers sweating now, with many choosing to be optimistic.
“It’s hard to know what to expect, but we think people are ready to get out and see the blooms,” Fahlgren said.
While 2020 was a mixed bag for Sequim-area lavender farms due to the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers agree they’re ready for an uptick in Sequim’s tourism this summer.
Sergio Gonzalez, owner of Meli’s Lavender at 62 W. Diane Drive off Old Olympic Highway, said his staff is excited to have people back walking in their fields.
“It was a tough year, and we always want to do the best we can because visitors deserve the best,” he said.
Last year, state regulations forced farmers to keep it simple on their farms with U-pick, modified farm stores and curbside pickup while vendors, live music, and food booths were cancelled because of restrictions for special events.
This year, organizers of the Sequim Lavender Festival canceled its usual street fair in Carrie Blake Community Park for the second consecutive summer because of COVID-19, but partner farms and many independent farms continue to welcome people for the whole summer and during Sequim Lavender Weekend this coming Friday through Sunday — considered Sequim’s most visited time.
Lavender Connection recently fully opened the farm after operating by-appointment only in 2020 due to uncertainties in regard to the pandemic.
“It went well,” Olson said. “We definitely had a significantly reduced amount of visitors, but people had a great time and a personalized experience.”
Many farmers enhanced their websites and/or social media presence during 2020.
Olson said they “ended up being OK” by adding to their online presence and joining the Port Angeles Farmers Market.
Opening back up “feels good,” she said, as her family is vaccinated for COVID-19. At the farm, Olson said the farm’s only COVID-related requirement is similar to most area-businesses; they require a mask inside the farm store if you’re not vaccinated.
“We want those with children who are not vaccinated and who are immunocompromised to feel safe and have no worries coming here,” she said.
“We’re happy to come outside and offer curbside if needed for anyone.”
All summer long
Many farms opened earlier this year with plans all summer.
Washington Lavender, 965 Finn Hall Road, Port Angeles, was the first farm to host an event with its own Washington Lavender Lavender Festival from July 9-18.
There is no charge for admission to see the lavender in bloom, and experience various vendors and demonstrations.
The farm and the George Washington Inn hosts other events throughout the summer too, including Hymn Sing by the Sea from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. July 31, and the NW Colonial Festival, Aug. 12-15.
Owners and operators of Victor’s Lavender Farm, 3743 Old Olympic Highway, and Victor’s Rain Shadow Lavender Farm, 1410 Kitchen-Dick Road, put heavy emphasis on Sequim Lavender Weekend with free workshops, music, food from Bella Italia and more.
While both farms will be open that weekend, events will move to Victor’s Rain Shadow Lavender Farm, organizers said, with hopes to bring back a Barn Dance in 2022.
Co-owner Victor Gonzalez said the farm will offer workshops Friday and Saturday along with music from Chez Jazz with Sarah Shea from 3-5 pm. Friday and Deadwood Revival 3 p.m.to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Jardin du Soleil at 3932 Sequim Dungeness Way, is another farm with a packed summer calendar and its own festival too.
Co-owner Jordan Schiefen said it’s been a busy spring and summer so far with “people ready to come out.”
“I like to call it ‘back to normal, plus,’” she said.
Jardin du Soleil did stay busy last summer, Schiefen said, because their farm’s offerings are predominantly outside. This summer, she anticipates even more people coming from all over the world as people become more comfortable traveling.
“We’re just excited to do things again and get to celebrate people coming this year from farther out,” she said.
The farm is hosting a workshop today, after offering one on Saturday, and will have its annual Jardin du Soleil Lavender Festival from Friday through Sunday, with tickets covering all three days.
The farm offers a Lavender Farm Experience where visitors can harvest lavender and make their own essential oil for all of July.
While the farm is open during the week, Fleurish Lavender will offer live music each day of Sequim Lavender Weekend along with several vendors and treats like lavender lemonade, Fahlgren said.
Despite the diminished sales due to COVID-19, Gonzalez said he and his family are remaining optimistic as Meli’s Lavender remains open through the end of August on weekends.
“We want to stay positive,” he said. “It’d be great to get a million people here.”
For more about Sequim lavender farms, visit sequimlavenderweekend.com.
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.