Lewis County residents need not drive to the northernmost reaches of the Olympic Peninsula to get their lavender fix during the height of summer.
The Cowlitz Falls Lavender Company in Randle is readying to host its third annual weeklong celebration of the fragrant, purple plant beginning Friday and running through July 14. The farm will be open from 12-5 p.m. each day through July 12 for U-Pick harvest and other retail offerings. On July 13-14, the farm will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a more robust festival setting that will include local vendors, artists and demonstrations of how lavender oil and other products are made.
A family contingent of Justin Claibourn, his wife Jordann and Justin’s father oversee the farm outside of their day jobs as diesel mechanics and being a stay-at-home mom. The trio and Justin’s mother, who recently passed away, joined forces to purchase 47 acres in Randle a few years back, with the idea of building out a farm to eventually serve as their retirement property. This will be the first large event at the farm since the memorial service was held there late last month.
“My parents always liked going up to the lavender festival in Sequim and my mom always liked seeing all of the lavender up there,” Justin Claibourn said. “They were joking one day that maybe they should do a lavender farm out there, so I did some soil testing and we decided it might be a good way to have it be our retirement income. We’ve done this celebration for three years now and last year we had a huge turnout. Other than the fact we were running around like chickens with our heads cut off, it was cool to have so much support from the community coming to check out what we have going on.”
Last year was the first time third-party vendors set up booths during the extended weekend hours of the lavender celebration. The response was strong enough, Justin Claibourn said, that they’re expecting at least double the number this time around. Admission is free; patrons can pick their own bunches of lavender for $5 each.
A little more than two acres of lavender are planted in 600-foot rows, a design he said was born out of scouting trips to other farms where people enjoy long walks through the fields more than bouncing from patch to patch. Their goal is ultimately to have plants lining the full eight acres of land that pushes up against Falls Road.
“When you drive down the road, we want you to be able to see all of those acres of lavender,” Claibourn said. “We’ve got about 6,000 plants out there right now. Our land when we bought it was timber land that had been logged and replanted, but those died and were taken over by invasive weeds. We needed to do something here to make the land look good and have it look good in the community.”
The farm has seen substantial growth in the past year thanks to its burgeoning wholesale arm, which ships product to farms across the country. A number of local businesses stock their wares, which include oils, candles, soap and the flowers themselves. Justin Claibourn credits Jordann with creating most of the retail items for sale.
What’s planted in Randle is about as much as the family can handle on their own part-time schedules. They hope to soon be able to hire someone to pitch in during the harvest season. In the meantime, they’ll look to continue establishing themselves as a local alternative to the farms in Sequim and beyond.
“We like to throw what is basically a party where people can come out to the farm and see what we do and how we make our products,” Justin Claibourn said. “It’s the peak of the growing season, so it gets pretty purple out there, too. We all still have day jobs — It’s a labor of love for us.”
For more information, visit cowlitzfallslavender.com or call 253-318-2317.