Seven Oaks Lavender Farm

Come to Your Senses

Seven Oaks Lavender Farm is a small family-owned and operated lavender farm in Catlett, Virginia. While we're not far from Washington DC, we can attest that life is better among the blossoms!

Home Aromatherapy!

By Katherine Oakes for Modernize.com

Holistic remedies, like the use of essential oils, have become more widely-accepted in recent years. Lavender is perhaps the most recognized and commonly-used essential oil by far, and according to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy it reduces stress and anxiety and assists with the regeneration of skin cells either with wounds, burns, bites, or irritation and itchiness. In other words, aromatherapy is nothing to sniff at.

Fortunately, lavender aromatherapy can be enjoyed easily in the comfort of your home to create an even more soothing and relaxing atmosphere. It’s eco-friendly and turns your home into your own private sanctuary? At Modernize, we couldn’t think of a better reason to stay in.

Here are 4 ways to enjoy all the benefits of lavender oils

Sachets

A sweet and simple way to enjoy the benefits of lavender’s heavenly scent in your home is with the use of sachets. Small muslin pouches filled with dried lavender, like the one from Seven Oaks Lavender Farm, work great and look great when placed in different nooks and crannies around the house. Place a few in the bathroom along with your toiletries in a cute basket to spruce the space up and keep things organized. Keep one or two in a sock or lingerie drawer to give your garments a fresh and lovely scent.

Lavender Linen Spray

 

While sachets most certainly get the job done, a lavender linen spray is a more concentrated form of the essential oil that you can spritz directly onto whatever fabric or material that you like. Since this linen spray is a natural alternative to other home fresheners that are likely to be filled with harmful chemicals and airborne carcinogens, you can apply it generously throughout your home without having to worry about what you’re releasing into the atmosphere. Spray it on your pillows and sheets before bed for a peaceful nighttime ritual, or use it on your couches and chairs when they start to get that “lived-in” sort of smell.

Lavender Infused Bath Salts

It’s hard to imagine anything more soothing than soaking in a hot tub with lavender scented bath salts, like these from Seven Oaks Lavender Farm. Bath salts aren’t just comforting because you are completely immersed in steaming hot water with nothing to do but relax and close your eyes after a long, hard day of work—okay, well maybe that is a big part of it, but bath salts reduce inflammation and irritation in your body in the same way that lavender does for your skin. These two ingredients together enhance the other’s medicinal properties, making it a truly healing experience.

Essential Oil Diffuser

Diffusers are a great and effective way to enjoy the benefits of an aromatic essential oil like lavender. Inhaling these scents by way of a diffuser is healthful for your respiratory system and your state of mind. As our bodies absorb the diffused molecules of the oil from the air, it can have a direct effect psychologically by reducing stress and anxiety. All it takes is a simple sniff.

Find all of these items at here on the website at the Online Shop!

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Bottling Up Those Summertime Flavors

We have a new product line on the shelves - our homegrown bottled herbs! 

During the peak season, we not only offer lavender, but around 10 different varieties of "pick your own herbs" as well.

Some of these include spearmint, Cuban mojito mint, rosemary, sage, basil, Thai basil, thyme, oregano, stevia, Mexican tarragon and nasturtium. They are grown with organic practices and are located in beds adjacent to our lavender fields. It makes for the perfect opportunity to grab a handful of freshness before you leave for that night's dinner.

I'm sure, like us, many of you begin to miss the taste of these fresh flavors come winter. So, to keep a little summer with us all year-round, we pick what is left of our herbs (from heartier plants like basil, rosemary, sage, stevia and thyme) in late summer/ early fall to dry out and bottle up.

How you ask?

There are more than one way to dry herbs, but you always want to make sure they are free of dirt. Then, we decided use a process of wrapping them in newspaper before storing in a dry, dark place until the leaves are brittle and void of any water. At this point, they can be hand-stripped and bottled. To best preserve the flavors, our herbs are bottled whole. We suggest crushing just before use to get the maximum flavor for the longest length of time. 

But, why fresh herbs?

Fresh herbs, like the ones grown in our field, are about 5x more fragrant and flavorful than store-bought products. They don't go through the travel process, are grown locally, and if you use organic practices like us, you know they have not come in contact with any unwanted chemicals. They are also a healthy alternative to salt in order to add richness and flavor to your food.

Along with our bottles, we also use these herbs in our infused vinegars and olive oils - they are fairly simple to make for those looking for a summertime project!

 

Be sure to check out the online shop or stop by the store on weekends from 10-3 p.m. for a look at all of our herb-y products!

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LivingSocial – Farm Admission

As many of you know, our recent LivingSocial deal for our tea & wreath making classes was a huge success!

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So, we are offering a second LivingSocial deal now for discounted admission to visit our farm and beautiful plants during the season!

It's a perfect summer activity for families to take advantage of the warm weather by strolling through our fields, visiting the farm store, and playing with our animals! You also walk away from your visit with fresh and vibrant lavender bouquets!

We look forward to seeing you in June! 

https://www.livingsocial.com/deals/1352214-lavender-farm-admission-for-up-to-four-bouquet

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Insight on the Field Expansion

As many of you know, the past six months have been dedicated to expanding our lavender fields to be three times in size. And as cold and snowy as this week has been, we are so glad we went through the process of increasing and protecting for our baby plants!

Why expand? As attendance has dramatically increased over past 3-4 years, field expansion was necessary to keep up with demand. Over the years some customers had mentioned they were expecting a field with a more traditional row design.  We like to make our customers happy, so we decided not only to expand, but to completely redo our lavender field.

The field expansion was long and exhausting process with so many different steps and decision points. For those of you wondering how the process worked, we wanted to give a little inside look into the steps it took to get the field where it is today!

But before we do that, we have to give a special shout-out to our employee, April Schmidt.

April supervised most of the field re-do with love and care.  (April, who has worked with us off and on for three years will be pursuing an off the farm job after receiving her  Master of Public Health with the Concentrations: Maternal and Child Health; Health Education and Communication.)  April first removed ground cloth from the old field, helped build the new field rows, covered them with ground cloth, moved many large old plants as well as planting hundreds of new plants, watering them and finally assisting in covering all the rows with frost cloth to protect them over the winter. Thank you April, we really couldn’t have done it without you!

And here is a little look at our expansion journey!

1.     Research. In order to expand the field, we first had to do our research. Over the past few years, our plants have been suffering from the fungal disease, Phytophthora.   Once a plant is infected by this disease, it slowly dies over the course of 3-4 years and there is no cure. It is very sad for us to watch some of our biggest plants dying a slow death, so, one of our predominant concerns with the field expansion was creating an environment that would make our fields more resistant to this disease.

To do this, we developed a 3-prong strategy – new field, new plants, new protection. The new field would be different than before – we would mound up the dirt to plant each row and instead of ground cloth between rows, we would use sod. This would absorb moisture (lavender plants like to be dry, they don’t like their “feet wet”) and provide a barrier and weed management. We would also source brand new plants. These plants, a hybrid called Phenomenal, are resistant to the Phytophthora. (Head up!  We will also be selling Phenomenal lavender plants this summer.) We also began using a bio-organic product to form a barrier around the roots of the plants to keep disease from attaching itself to the root system.

2.     Labor. This was by far the most time-consuming part of the expansion. We started by taking up all the ground cloth in the old field while having the new field plowed.  Post-plowing, we mounded dirt and installed the new ground cloth on top to form rows running down the length of the front field. When this was completed, holes were cut in the ground cloth for each plant (about 4 feet apart). Then we were ready to get the babies!

3.     Purchasing Plants. In the middle of the labor process, a good farm friend, Charlie Resnik, hopped in his old van filled with impromptu shelving and took a day trip up to Pennsylvania to bring home the new Phenomenal plants.

4.     Organizational Chart. We created a hand-drawn chart to map out each plant type and its location in the field. Even though we only bought a few new varieties, we have many others varieties of lavender plants from the old field. We created a small open lawn space in the center of the new field. This area will be home to a new gazebo....a great focal point and prop for photos!   We placed our largest plants as a border to the lawn, so the back drop would be as purple as possible.

5.     More Labor. We planted the freshly arrived baby Phenomenal plants and dug up and replanted the mature plants not infected with Phytophthora into the holes in the the new field. By this time, it was late fall and we needed to start preparing the plants for winter. To do this, hoops were placed in the ground (and by placed, we meant using every ounce of strength in our arms on the days the dirt was nearly frozen) and then frost cloth was cut, placed over the hoops, and the ends covered with dirt (again, harder than it sounds) for each of the 20 or so rows. Even though time consuming, this step is extremely important as it protects the plants from wind and snow and raises the temperature under the cloth by ten degrees.  Lavender is really only tolerant of cold down to 10 below.

6.     Future. As the winter rolls on and we start seeing signs of life in the early spring, we will plow up the old field and extend the new rows up to the top of the knoll. By the time this is finished, our 1 ½ acre field will have expanded to 3-4 acres, and that’s only in a year!

Come summer, there will be a large variety of sizes and types of lavender. This variance in size will continue into the next few years as the babies grow into mature, thriving adults. We added 8-10 perennial herbs last year which will be available this year for cutting, and we just added 10 new rows of other types of perennial flowers available for picking as well.

With all of these changes, we think it will create a layered and  impressive vista – perfect for summer day-trips to the country to pick flowers, or herbs, picnic and enjoy the scenery.   The new field will create a dramatic backdrop for selfies, photographs, or professional portraits!

As always, we'd like to thank you for your support of small agriculture in Virginia.  We look forward to showing off the new field in Season 2015!

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Making Our Room Sprays

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Do you know and love our room sprays?

If so, than you may already know that we have 10-12 different varieties, all with their own special mixes of lavender and other floral scents. Each one is made with all natural ingredients and provides a way to add a nice fragrance to your house without the use of chemicals.

If you’ve been thinking of making your own spray – maybe you have a particular scent that you want to experiment with, or you want to make one of your favorite store-bought brand sprays more eco-friendly – than here is how we make ours to be all-natural with just the right amount of fragrance!

To begin, the items you will need to have a few items handy:

  • Spray Bottles and Caps
  • Essential Oil
  • Water
  • Vegetable Glycerin
  • Eye Dropper
  • Gallon Jug
  • Measuring Cups
  • Pouring Cylinder

Then, there is a bit of prep work.

If you are making sprays for the first time, you will need to purchase your preferred scents and experiment with their ratios. For the most part we use essential oil to scent our sprays, but in some cases when essential oil is not available to achieve a specific scent, we use fragrance oil.  If you are using small amounts, these can be found at your local health food store. Larger quantities (like we use) can be purchased online through companies like Essential Wholesale online.

Experimenting with ratios can be a bit time consuming. Using a paper towel, add different drop amounts of various oils onto separate corners of the towel creating different mixes, and see which smells are most appealing to you. If you want to use lavender as one of your scents, we have found that you normally need 5x as much lavender as most other scents because it known as an undertone and its fragrance is easily overpowered.

Next, make sure you have spray bottles purchased. We get ours through SKS Bottle & Packaging, and we typically buy a small (4 oz.) and large (8 oz.) size. For smaller purchases, you can also check your local craft store.

Collect your water, vegetable glycerin and oil. Using your gallon jug, measuring cups and cylinder, mix the water and glycerin. Typically, our water to glycerin ratio is 9/10 water to 1/10 glycerin. The glycerin is added to prevent the ingredients from separating over time. Feel free to add the liquid to any size spray bottle, but know the mixture ratio will change depending on size.

The amount of essential oil or fragrance oil added is up to you. Depending on how potent you want your spray will tell you how much oil to add – the stronger the fragrance, the more oil. Use an eye dropper to put in your preferred amounts into your spray bottles. Be sure this is washed out after completion, as some oils as so strong they can eat away the rubber on top of the eye dropper over time!

After all of this has been completed – shake and enjoy! Good luck with your mixtures and happy spraying! (And for those of you who don't have the time to make your own, you can check out our different varieties in the online shop!)

 

*Many essential oils are clear but a few and some fragrance oils are darker in color. You might want to pretest using them on a piece of fabric you don't love! 

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Clean Living

Are you ready to clean up you lifestyle?  Make your home more wholesome?  Find a way to naturally bring relaxation and better rest to the new year?

Seven Oaks Lavender Farm will be launching a new product line called "Clean Living" to give tips on doing just that!

We are in the process of adding a new category to the Online Store highlighting all of our most eco-friendly and all-natural products. We will also be writing blog posts about those products and other tips and techniques we have to live a cleaner life (look for our Clean Living logo on each blog post). So be sure to keep checking for updates!

*You can also take advantage of our 20% off deal (on orders $29.95 and over...AND there's free shipping!) now through the end of January with the coupon code:  Clean Living

http://www.sevenoakslavenderfarm.com/farmshop/

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Recipes with our Teas and more....

Thanks to our good friends at Airlie Center we got a mention for our teas in two very unique recipes and one mention for a culinary lavender garnish in The Washington Post!

Chai-Lavender Tea Cocktail

Yums to the tums.....order some teas or culinary lavender at our Farm to Table shop.

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