In between the rows of lavender at Kin Loch Farmstead, visitors might think they’re on the French Country side, but it’s really just Ridge Road in Cambria.
In summer 2018, Alex and Ryan Plante filled two of their 30 acres of land with 2,000 lavender plants.
Settling in Niagara County was no random choice.
“Lavender is indigenous to the Mediterranean, so southern France, Croatia, Turkey, so it really likes sandy, arid conditions, well-drained soil,” Alex Plante said. “Here in Cambria and all of Niagara County, we used to be covered in Lake Ontario so a lot of the soil is very nutrient rich for that reason, but also areas have lots of sand because it was covered by water.”
An estimated 90 percent of the crop survived its first Western New York winter and now is in its peak season.
“When you harvest it, you harvest it at different times depending on how you’re going to use it,” Alex Plante explained. “Right now some of ours have flowered, which means the buds actually have flowers and those are most aesthetically pleasing to look at if you want to use it for an arrangement or things like that. If you harvest them when they’re still buds, you can use them for culinary purposes. You can put them in sachets. They’re a little bit more fragrant.”
This weekend, Kin Loch is opening its fields for visitors to pick their own lavender between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
“I’ll give you a basket, shears some instructions come up here and pick whatever kind of lavender you find most appealing,” Plante said.
Just across the stone driveway is a half-acre of flowers owned by Heirloom Soul Florals, and while the u-pick doesn’t include these buds, different floral workshops will be offered throughout the summer.
“It’s kind of an informal flower arranging class and I’ll give tips on how to arrange flowers in a mason jar,” said Fran DePalma, owner of Heirloom Soul Florals. “We have another one that’s a wine and flower night where we’ll have a wine tasting with a little more formal bigger arrangement.”
Looking ahead, the owners are excited to see the farm grow and hope to fill the remaining acres with even more rows of fragrant flowers.
“This is all two-year lavender, it will be full grown by either next year or the year after and it can live up to 15 years so we’ll be here for the foreseeable future,” Plante said.
All lavender is first-come-first-served, so plot a course to Cambria early to pick some before it’s gone.