About Seven Oaks Lavender Farm
"How did you decide to start a lavender farm?" is one of the questions we are most often asked. To answer this question we should really start with my mother’s family which is a Pennsylvania farm family with roots reaching back to the 1700’s. My grandfather, Charles Campbell, raised hogs and potatoes and my mother, Edith Jane Campbell Williamson, worked by his side learning a lot about caring for plants and animals. See her hog slopping! She raised her five children knowing how to work hard, to garden well and to love and appreciate the beauty of nature.
We can't leave my father's side of the family out of the lavender farm story though. Bertha Williamson, my paternal grandmother, taught her son, Glenn, how to SELL! (And sing, travel, and to be always mindful of the needs of others.) Nana, as we called her, then went on to inspire her grandchildren with her love of crafting and her marketing genius. We fondly recall her stories of sales triumphs at The Little Tijuana Gift Shop in Miami, Florida. As children my sister Dianne and my brothers, Doug, Duane and David marched around our suburban development charming neighbors into buying potholders, note cards, leather bracelets, seed packets, and fairly useless things such as painted rocks and little hand-sewn "pockets".
At the age of fourteen, we moved from Fairfax to Fauquier County. I was not always thrilled with country life. When I left for college, I swore never to return to live there. Fast-forward twenty years, past studying business, art and humanities. Living in Norfolk, Virginia and then New York City where I had my son Lincoln. By the time he reached two, I changed my mind about city life. I longed to raise him in open spaces and returned to Virginia.
I lived with my parents for a time. Mom and I discussed ideas for a little farm project. Flowers? Herbs? What would sell? I started asking around. On one trip back to New York, my hair stylist and I chatted about a shop his boyfriend had that sold herbs. “What sells the best?” I asked. “Hmm…rosemary or lavender I think,” he responded. Mom, my sister and I had taken a trip to France recently and bought some lavender in our travels through the French countryside. I also came across and article in “Oprah” magazine about a women who had left a career in New York City to start a family and a lavender farm in Texas. Sound familiar?
We started with a hundred plants in the field in front of my parent’s old home. We mounded up soil to create extra drainage as the land was very flat. I remember Lincoln in just a diaper toddling around with a spade and attempting to dig his own holes. “I lavender Mommy?” he inquired. Now Lincoln’s a teenager, who is not always so thrilled about living in the country.
A year after returning to Virginia, I bought Seven Oaks Farm, renovated the farmhouse built in 1860, and moved in with plans to build Mom and Dad the home on a knoll they’d always dreamed of on the farm property. That was accomplished, and as they had sold their old home, we moved the 100 lavender bushes six miles up the road to Seven Oaks and elongated the farm name to “Seven Oaks Lavender Farm.”
We began offering a pick-your-own experience at the farm in 2005. My sister, Dianne Bignoli, joined the business a few years later and her daughters Eva and Sofia have been helpful third generation lavender farmers. Together we have grown the business from a few visitors trickling in and a very diminutive line of lavender products, to doing a booming pick-your-own business, creating a high-quality, extensive product line: mostly made here at the farm, as well as selling fresh lavender and our lavender products at the farm, online, and in retail markets.
We are often asked to speak to groups on our farm’s success. And during the Q. and A. section, we always answer that inevitable question, “How did you get the idea to start a lavender farm?”
Civil War History of Farm:
In quite a coincidence our great grandfather, Henry Clay Campbell, fought in a Pennsylvania regiment that participated in the battle, Auburn I and II, the perimeters of which contain our farm property. How funny to think that when Seven Oaks house was built in 1860, soon after, Henry Clay trod over the land which would be bought by his great-great-grandaughter so many years later. By the way, Henry Clay, although wounded twice, returned to the war and fought until the very last day and was present at the Surrender at Appomattox.
Most lavenders are natives of the Mediterranean region, the islands of the Atlantic, Asia Minor,
and India, but they are now grown all over the world.
Ancient Egyptians constructed stills to make lavender essential oil to be used in mummification
Around 600 B.C. lavender was carried to France, Spain, Italy and England. Lavender is the best
known of the fragrant herbs and has been loved and treasured for centuries....
In the News
Over the past eight years, Seven Oaks Lavender Farm, has made its way into many magazines, newspapers, and television programs.
Many of them feature the working relationship of mother and daughters, the family farming history and the Williamson family’s interest and ability of providing a lovely and enjoyable experience for customers of all ages.
Deborah Williamson, as a creative nonfiction writer, has penned a few articles on the farm herself...