Spanning 60 acres of purple majestic forest, beautiful scenery, gift shops, taste testing and more, Lavender Oaks Farm is just five minutes from downtown Chapel Hill and can fulfill all of your lavender needs.
Lavender Oaks Farm owners Karen and Robert Macdonald began as novice farmers three years ago when they opened the business. Today the farm produces nine flavors of lavender on 60 private acres that are used to make jellies, jams, seasonings, kombuchas and more. The farm is located on Millard Whitley Road in Chapel Hill.
Karen Macdonald became fascinated with the flowering plant a few years ago when her friends shared photos and stories about trips to lavender festivals in California.
“I became jealous of them and wondered if I could start growing lavender plants here in North Carolina,” Macdonald said. “My kids thought I was crazy when I told them I was selling everything and growing a lavender farm,”
North Carolina’s hot and humid climate is not an ideal environment for lavender farming. The plant traditionally prefers drier climates and sandy soils, but it didn’t take much for Macdonald’s husband to believe in the possibility of pursing her lavender dreams.
“I made my husband, Robert, lavender chicken for dinner and he was sold,” she said.
Soon enough, the Macdonald family was standing in the middle of the 60 acres of land that they had just purchased. Neither Karen nor Robert had experience growing lavender when they spontaneously purchased the land.
“We didn’t even know if we could get water and septic out here, so we were really taking our chances,” Macdonald said.
Without any science or farming background, the couple taught themselves how to grow lavender plants in North Carolina’s adverse climate.
“Proper preparation of our fields was key to helping our lavender grow,” Macdonald said.“We determined the best location for our fields that provided plenty of sunshine, a slight slope to the land for drainage, and planted a cover crop of crimson clover to add some nitrogen into our clay soil.”
Now, three years later, Macdonald couldn’t imagine life without the beautiful, purple plant and the flourishing business that Lavender Oaks Farm has become.
“Lavender brings together all of the beautiful things,” Macdonald said. “It’s like a beautiful dance of nature when the bees are just pollinating, floating and doing their work.”
As the business continues to grow, Macdonald hopes that people will always remember the beautiful, elegant lavender farm that they first fell in love with.
“It’s truly a magical place. We like to call it a hidden treasure,” Macdonald said. “I never feel like I am at work. I am doing something I love, and I am passionate about. We feel so blessed.”