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Area farm is growing lavender to soothe, calm and surprise

by David Meyer

EVERTON - The 87 acre farm just north of here is gradually expanding its patch of purple.

Farm owner Kathryn Dean held a Lavender Day there on Saturday, with people coming and going all day long, enjoy­ing the tranquil setting, buying baked goods and lavender products, and just enjoying tea and soothing music by Ian Reid, of Rockwood.

Dean bought the farm about five years ago, and said one reason to block urban sprawl as much as it was to farm. She rents most of the land and the barn, but keeps a small patch to grow her lavender. She pro­motes the Ontario Farmland Trust, which has the goal of preserving farmland.

Dean grew up on a fruit farm in the Niagara Penninsula, but lived in Toronto for years, where she is a book editor. She wrote a book several years ago with artist Robert Bateman, called Birds.

As anyone involved with an herb as a business, Dean knows plenty about it. Lavender, she said, came from the Mediter­ranean, and the main type is call­ed Provencal, named after the part of France on the Medi­terranean where it grows.

Her plants come from Eng­land. They were carried there by ancient Romans when they conquered that part of the world centuries ago.

Dean said the obvious prop­erties of the plant are for a sachet, but it has many others. The Romans used it as a spice because of its peppery taste. She said she has put lavender seeds on her fried eggs for breakfast, and, “It has a bit of a peppery flavour.”

It has other uses, and Dean noted with a smile it can be a stimulant is some cases, and also relaxing. She has heard it protects against moths, but she has not yet determined that her­self so she does not recommend using it to replace moth balls.

Dean said the alkaloid soil on the farm is perfect for growing lavender, and she noted it is a perennial, so once planted, it continues every season. She has a locally made dryer she uses to obtain its es­sence for oils and soap making.

She noted that the Everton Academy of Culinary Arts pro­vided several of the pastries guests enjoyed during the Lav­ender Day. Those included short breads and scones with spots of purple in them – lavender, of course.

The tiny plant has been a popular herb for centuries. People like its beauty and its fragrance." The Romans and Greeks discovered that laven­der oil was perfect for many uses around the home, adding its fresh fragrance to soaps, bathwater, and making tea to cure a number of ailments. The antiseptic properties of laven­der oil mean it is good for skin as well. Bathing in lavender will help clear up skin prob­lems and make skin feel reju­ve­nated, while lavender tea has a number of uses.

Tea is made by soaking two tablespoons of dried lavender in a jug of hot water. That can be used as a compress by soak­ing strips of bandage or sterile linen in the hot liquid until it can be wrung out and laid on the bruise or wound.

The heat and the antiseptic qualities of the lavender com­bine to treat the wound. A warm lavender compress plac­ed on the chest can help congestion, while breathing in the steam of lavender helps breathing.

Drunk as a tea, lavender is a natural treatment for anxiety and headaches. It also soothes stomach upsets and flatulence, and cold lavender tea can be used as an effective mouth­wash.

Lavender's calming prop­er­ties are also well known. When people become stressed, it is soothing to soak in a lavender scented bath.

To help people sleep, a small pillow filled with dried lavender leaves and buds works well. Slip it inside the regular pillow and the soothing frag­rance helps calms people at the end of a day and promotes a restful night's sleep.

Lavender also has its uses in the kitchen - as a cleanser and as a cooking ingredient. Add lav­ender oil to a favorite cleaner to give it more cleaning power, and to fill the kitchen with a fresh fragrance. When mopping the floor, sprinkle lavender oil in the water and for a sweet smelling antiseptic mop.

When it comes to cooking, lavender can be used as oil, tea, or by taking the leaves and flow­ers. The easiest way to start is to make lavender sugar. Place two teaspoons of dried lavender, or three short laven­der sprigs, in the bottom of a clean glass jar. Pour over enough caster sugar to fill the jar and cap tightly. Leave for a few days and the sugar will have taken up the fragrance of the lavender. Use like vanilla sugar in cake and cookie reci­pes, and for a tantalizing new flavor to.

More experienced cooks can experiment with lavender conserve, lavender jelly, and lavender liqueur.

For more information about lavender and her products, contact Dean at kaydean@­rocnet.ca, or telephone 519-856-2806.

 

Vol 42 Issue 30

 
 

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