Voluntourism at Woodinville Lavender

 

Last week, I started a new annual summer tradition – volunteering with the lavender harvest at Woodinville Lavender in beautiful Woodinville, WA.   

July is the peak for the lavender bloom, which means it’s happening right now! It’s a breathtaking experience. One for the bucket list for anyone who lives in the Seattle area.

The farm and gift store is open year-round, but it’s at its most brilliant in the summer months. The manicured rows of vibrant lavender offer a sensual aromatherapy experience.

For the casual visitor
Bite into a lavender ice cream bar (yes, I said lavender ice cream) and wander the fields: The farm grows many different varieties of lavender – each one is a little different from the other. For lavender fanatics, it’s a treat to compare the rows and pick out your favorite.

U-Pick: The farm offers visitors the opportunity to cut a fresh bouquet, or take home a dried wreath from the gift shop. Get lost exploring all of the lavender products in the store.  From teas and culinary lavender tins to lotions and floral water,  Woodinville Lavender has all kinds of imaginative uses for lavender.

Patio: Relax with a lavender lemonade on the patio and open your senses to the purple hues and distinctive fragrance radiating off the field.

The lavender addict that I am, I wanted a more hands-on experience at the farm. I’m obsessed with lavender and learning everything there is to know about bringing more of it into my life. To that end,  the farm generously offers harvesting and bundling classes,  demonstrations,  and special events all year round. Be sure to like the farm on Facebook for time and date updates.

Harvest Volunteering
Lavender Bundling: Farm owner Tom Frei was our gracious host and teacher. Tom, wisely, handled the cutting with a sickle, and we volunteers bundled the bunches with rubber bands to get them ready for drying. I couldn’t believe how pungent the fields were. My hands have never smelled so good after handling all the flowers. I wish I permanently smelled like lavender! There were only 5 of us working in the field, but we were definitely not alone. The garden was absolutely buzzing with honey bees! I have a deep-rooted terror of bees, but between the calming scent of lavender and Tom’s reassurance that the bees had no interest in harming us, my fear quickly dissipated. He was right, they left us alone to go about our harvesting adventure. Not one sting!

Drying the lavender: With hundreds of bundles piled up, it was time to hang them out to dry. I learned a super easy technique for bundling and drying the lavender you might have growing at home:
1. Cut a generous handful of lavender stems.
2. Tie the bottom stems secure using a rubber band.
3. Open up a paper clip so there’s a hook on each end. Thread one hook through the rubber band. Use the other hook to hang on some netting or a nail in a cool, dry place!

Volunteering was such a rewarding experience. I went into it to get tips about how to cut and dry my own lavender, but I got so much more out of it. It was truly part-tourism, part-volunteering, all love for lavender.

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