Much like Dorothy in the poppy fields, the lavender in the fields of Finca Dos Padres is incredibly soporific. But what happens after the harvest?
Our first harvest of sixty plants yielded enough to fill a large shopping bag. The three of us took care of that in less than an hour. The next day we left on a road trip to the Atlantic coast of France where we were meeting up with our partners in this endeavor. They have access to a lovely house in Normandy. We felt it would be a fun summer project to learn how to distill lavender while on vacation.
YouTube provided a wealth of information and misinformation. Based on our brief internet education we set off to the local brocante to find a used pressure cooker. Amongst the newly educated we set up a home still. It was very much like an old Western movie, with us creating moonshine in the back shed. We filled the house with a too-intense smell of lavender. We were successful in creating several liters of lavender water, with the oil rising to the top like the cream in a glass bottle of French whole milk.
Our first experiment was a success, but we desired a more formal education. So we decided to enroll in a distillation class with a local scent maker. Shortly into the first class I discovered that we were actually in a perfume making class. Not what I expected, but hey, I needed to learn what I could do with the stuff once I had the oil. Distillation would be part of the class.
The class was a wealth of information and extremely taxing on my untrained nose. We were not off the mark with our original still, but production levels were about to increase significantly. After eight weeks of class we walked away with a better understanding of distilling lavender as well as thousands of other wild herbs we can find on our property. We also composed beautiful scents and gained a beginner’s level to do so again.
So essential oil was and is our main reason for growing lavender; however along the way we are discovering all the bi-products that come along with this. Much more is to be explored on this topic but in the meantime we are enjoying an intoxicating smelling barn, lavender scented ironing water, fragrant baths and aftershave spritzer.