We are back with another Where It’s Made post, and this time it’s about something that looks beautiful, smells divine, and makes your skin silky smooth. I am talking about Lavender! We got the idea from some friends of ours who did the tour, and actually volunteered in the harvesting of the lavender.While the main harvest took place in June, we were unable to take part with the kids’ school, and preparing for our Summer 2013 Road Trip. We were lucky enough though to catch the second bloom, so Heidi booked us on a tour. It turns out the location of the farm was only about 40 minutes away. We were told the farm was a bit out of the way, so Google Maps wasn’t going to be much help.
The place is called Casa Lavanda, and is in the Lecrin Valley [El Valle de Lecrin], close to a small town named Restabal, in the Lecrin Valley of Granada. Luckily for us, the owners (Femke & Erik) had place lavender painted rocks and signs from the main road all the way to their farm. There were several other dirt roads that intersected with ours, and when we weren’t sure which direction to go, we’d look for the painted rocks, and sure enough, we found our way.
Once there, Femke gave us a nice welcome, and showed us around the farm. They have thousands of plants, and while we didn’t see the typical purple bloom, it was still beautiful. The plants below have already been harvested, but as you can see, it looks like a lot of work.
Femke and Erik then showed us the contraption they use to distill the oil from the lavender plants. It looks very similar to your everyday run-of-the-mill still, like what someone would use to make moonshine. The big vessel at the bottom holds the water that comes from an on-site well. A fire is lit under the vessel, and that causes the steam to rise into the container which holds the flowers and stems. The vapor/oil is then condensed into the recovery vessel.
It’s a pretty interesting process. 125 plants (flower/stem material) yields from 300 mL to 500 mL of oil. This year, they will produce approximately 10 L of exceptional lavender oil. Erik dipped his hand in the big water tank at the bottom, and had this black/brownish water in his cupped hand. He rubbed some of it on his arm, while extolling the many virtues. He put some on my hand, and it smelled great. Considering it’s their “waste water”, it smelled great.
With all of that oil, they sell massage oil, lavender water, and of course the pure oil itself. Erik then showed us how the plants are harvested. He pulled a long piece of canvas out to hold all of the clippings, brought out this sharp hand-held scythe tool (Freddie Krueger would be proud), and went to work.
Each plant is like a little bush about a foot across. Erik grabbed all flowers stems, pulled out any of the weeds/debris, and pulled up (like you might do if you were making a ponytail), and then he took his handy tool out and cut the whole thing off. Throwing the clippings onto the canvas, it was on to the next bush. With each bush cut, we could smell a burst of lavender fragrance, and it was amazing.
Even the kids got involved. Femke brought out some scissors, and the kids started harvesting. They don’t like to take out the garbage, or rinse off their dishes, but they were all business when it came to harvesting lavender. Once the kids had cut a bunch of flowers, we decided to buy some of the massage oil.
It was a great tour, and we’d like to come back when the plants have their first bloom. Many thanks to Femke and Erik for explaining all the ins-and-outs.
This is a great option for a day trip from Granada, Malaga or Almeria, Spain. They offer many workshops and crafts for you to get involved and make a day of it. They do accept small tour buses and also host events. If it is during harvest season, you can even help out. Please refer to their website for Casa Lavanda operating hours and workshop dates and times.
Update as of May 2017 – The farm is no longer open to visitors as the owners have moved. Here is their facebook page, just in case things change.