Meet New Owners of Lavender Fields Forever
By Caryn Gehlmann
I’m really pleased to introduce to you the new owners of Lavender Fields Forever, Rob and Marcy Rustad. As many of you know, this lavender farm is so near and dear to my heart and I love the thoughtful, heartfelt approach the Rustads are taking to their new adventure as lavender farmers!
You’ll also learn about some of the upcoming classes they’re planning, including several that I’ll be teaching! I love teaching, but teaching on a beautiful lavender farm next to the gorgeous Applegate River is extra special. Especially after the crazy year we’ve just had, this is your chance to relax and recharge. All you lavender lovers, enjoy our interview below.
Tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to buy a lavender farm.
Marcy: I come from rural Nebraska and grew up as a small-town girl in a farming community. I was fully engaged with my family’s 40-acre farm just 2 miles from town, driving the tractor, digging thistles, planting trees, and whatever else needed to be done as a child growing up.
My career took me to California and the business world but I never lost my deep attraction to nature, rural settings, beautiful barns, and the rhythm of an agricultural community. When we saw the lavender farm here in the Applegate Valley it resurfaced all those youthful memories and experiences.
Rob: When we moved from Central California we were originally looking to downsize a bit but we fell in love with the property. This wonderful lavender farm felt like home. We were a little daunted at how much we needed to learn, but everyone we spoke with was so positive, encouraging, and supportive. As we got to know the former owners of Lavender Fields Forever, including e3’s Caryn Gehlmann, we realized that when you run this farm, you’re more of a caretaker than an owner. It’s a real privilege to be part of the lavender community here in Southern Oregon.
So here we are, in our new home, learning the ways of lavender, and taking in the sights, smells, and rhythm of life on the farm here on the Applegate River.
What do you like most about living on a lavender farm?
Marcy: I have always had the passion to grow things and dabbled in a much smaller way with landscaping, flowers, shrubs, and house plants. Now with the lavender, it takes growing things to a whole new level that also includes sharing the wonders of lavender through classes, products, and events. It’s the sharing of the lavender experience with others that I am most excited about.
Rob: I’m really enjoying the community spirit in the Applegate Valley. We have been to community listening sessions where everyone gets to have an opportunity to share what’s on their mind. We’re also noticing that there is something very peaceful and positive about lavender, it seems to bring people together.
What kinds of lavender do you grow?
We grow 2 different types and 7 varieties of lavender here on the farm.
English lavenders produce shorter stems and are traditionally used for culinary purposes. We grow the “Ana Luisa” and “Royal Purple” varieties which are processed into dried buds and essential oil for use in our culinary delights on the farm as well as for sale. We also have two varieties of English lavender primarily for color which include the pink “Ms. Katherine” and the white “Alba” varieties which are picked to add color variation to bouquets and wreaths.
Lavendula Intermedia lavenders produce long stems and are traditionally used for aromatic purposes. We grow the “Grosso”, “Gros Bleu” and “Hidcote Giant” varieties. These are processed into dried buds and essential oil for use in our bath, body, and household products as well as for sale.
Since we moved to the property in December, we’re excited to see them all bloom and bring their beauty and luscious scent to the farm soon.
As new owners of Lavender Fields Forever, what classes will you be hosting this summer?
We are offering a variety of classes this summer and they are listed below. People can learn more and sign up on our website. After a very long year with most of our learning indoors on virtual platforms like Zoom, we know many people are excited to participate at in-person events again. These classes are all held outdoors following current, local COVID-19 safety guidelines. Feel free to sign up with friends and family!
e3’s Caryn Gelmann will be teaching the following classes:
The Art of Blending: Create your own aromatherapy blend with lavender and other essential oils
Date: July 30, 2021
Caryn will share the many ways you can use lavender — such as calming respiratory congestion, soothing aching muscles, reducing discomfort from insect bites, cuts or scrapes, easing anxiety, promoting deep restful sleep, and so much more!
Then the real fun begins as she guides you through the creation of your own unique essential oil blend with lavender as the base. You’ll be able to experiment with different essential oils until you create a blend that with every inhale, leaves you feeling calm, peaceful, and smiling! You’ll be able to take your new blend with you in a 10 ml roll-on bottle so you can enjoy all the uplifting properties of lavender wherever and whenever you want.
Lavender Essential Oil/Hydrosol Distilling
Dates: July 23, 2021, August 7, 2021, August 13, 2021
Learn the essentials! Come learn firsthand how pure, high-quality lavender essential oil is distilled. We will introduce you to the different kinds of lavender that grow in Southern Oregon – perhaps you’ll find a new favorite. In the class, you will harvest the lavender, distill essential oil and hydrosol, and bottle them. You will be working in the lavender field so we recommend comfortable gardening clothes and gloves, along with hats, sun protection and water!
Care and Harvesting of Lavender
Date: August 2, 2021
Lavender thrives in Southern Oregon, so this is a great class to learn how to harvest and enjoy it! Join us at Lavender Fields Forever and starting in the field, you’ll learn how to best cut and bundle fresh lavender. Back in the barn, Caryn will talk about how to care for your lavender plants now that it is the end of the season to keep your plants healthy. Also, what do you do with all your lavender buds? You will be working in the lavender field so we recommend comfortable gardening clothes and gloves, along with hats, sun protection and water!
There will be additional classes throughout the summer. Go to the Lavender Fields Forever Classes page to sign up.
Dates: July 23, 2021, July 24, 2021
Enjoy the beauty and aroma of beautiful lavender flowers by making a wreath you can hang at home. Bonnie will supply the lavender, materials and easy instructions. You’ll enjoy the scent and beauty for weeks or even months to come. Taught by Bonnie Rinaldi
Lavender Wand Making
Date: July 31, 2021
Lavender wands have been used since Victorian days to pleasantly scent and decorate drawers, closets, and small rooms. Join as Bonnie provides the tools, supplies and instructions you need to make this relaxing traditional craft. Taught by Bonnie Rinaldi
Date: July 31, 2021
Join lavender expert, John Rinaldi, for a field tour and our down-on-the-farm version of a seminar on all things lavender – including history, varieties, uses, propagation, growing, and more! Leave with the “Lavender Lowdown” handout developed by John especially for attendees of this Farminar. Taught by John Rinaldi
Natural Body Care Product Workshop
Date: August 21, 2021
Create your own body care products that can be used for hair care, skin care, and in the bath with local author, Janice Cox. This workshop includes take-home products made in class, Janice’s book “Beautiful Lavender”, and several lavender recipes. Culinary treats and drinks will also be served as you learn and relax on the farm. Taught by: Janice Cox, author Beautiful Lavender (Ogden Publications 2020)
Any other Recommendations for people who want to visit the farm?
We are excited to share the farm with others during this upcoming lavender season. The two 2021 lavender festivals are scheduled for June 25-27 and July 16-18 and are open to the general public without reservations. Other than the 6 days of the lavender festivals, a reservation is required to visit the farm. Reservations can be made on the LFF website calendar. Visit the Southern Oregon Lavender Trail website to see all the lavender farms in Southern Oregon that are participating in the festival.
Lavender blooms here in Southern Oregon from mid-June to early August so please come out and visit our farm. A reservation is required for a farm visit so please make a reservation via our calendar before you come.
Thanks, Rob and Marcy for sharing with us a little about your background and the exciting events going on at Lavender Fields Forever this summer. I know I’m really looking forward to teaching these classes. If you’d like to join me (and help support the new owners of Lavender Fields Forever) make sure to sign up soon as space is limited.