Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Featured Exhibitor: Leah's Lavender Gardens




Who are you and what do you do?

I am a science teacher, Master Gardener, and hobby conservationist. I’ve been teaching high school biology and chemistry for 16 years and I work with at-risk kids. In my spare time I volunteer with the Master Gardener program through University of MN extension, and tend my own vegetable and flower gardens. I enjoy growing my own food and flowers, and love making useful, natural products for my home with what I grow. I love to stay informed about environmental issues, and do what I can to not be part of the environmental problem. I rescue monarch caterpillars and grow native plants for bees and butterflies, and try to provide habitat for birds and wildlife in my yard.


How did you get started in your business?

It is my dream to have a lavender farm. I have learned everything I can about lavender and farming to prepare myself. I have taken a class for beginning farmers and a class on growing lavender through Michigan State University, I have attended the national and regional conferences for lavender growers for several years, I went on a road trip through Wisconsin and Michigan and visited 17 lavender farms, and I have read every book on the subject that has been published. The only thing holding me back is a big farm down payment, and I am working hard trying to save my pennies to get there. I started Leah’s Lavender Gardens so I could have a training ground to learn how to run a business, so that when I finally get my lavender farm I will know what I am doing and won’t be starting from scratch!



What do your customers love most about your product(s)?

People love the scent of my products. They stop at my booth and pick up each soap to smell it, then they bend down to smell each potpourri. Visiting my booth is a sensory experience. But there are a lot of soaps to choose from out there—I think my customers are the ones who are interested in all-natural, high quality ingredients that are good for people and the environment. So many soaps contain artificial fragrance oils that can really overpower the senses, or synthetic colorants or chemicals that can be harsh on sensitive skin. I put a lot of thought and research into choosing natural ingredients that will be good for people and good for the environment.


What is the latest thing you have been working on?

Right now I am learning how to make my own soap dishes. I bought a small potting wheel, ordered some clay, and have been spending time figuring out pottery techniques. How hard can it be?! Well, turns out it’s a lot harder than it looks. I am also putting together new potpourri blends with an autumn theme in mind, and so far that has been much more successful than my pottery.



How do you usually prepare for the holiday season?

I start in summer when everything is growing and blooming. That’s when I harvest and dry flowers, leaves, seed pods, and everything else I need to put on top of my soaps or my potpourri. There is a curing time of 6-8 weeks for most of the products I make so I need to plan and prepare well ahead of time in order to be ready. As a teacher, I am fortunate to have summertime mostly to myself to pursue my own ambitions in the garden and with my business. I try to do as much work as I can in July and August so that when Labor Day rolls around I can turn my attention back to school. It is strange to be smelling peppermint and cinnamon in August, but that’s the game we play in the craft business!


Will you be featuring any special holiday items?

I have an assortment of soaps with holiday themed scents—peppermint, cranberry-orange, snowy pine, orange and clove, cinnamon spice… I also really enjoy my Evergreen Forest potpourri, which smells like a Christmas to me. I will have scented pine cones this year, and also pomander balls, which are oranges stuck with whole cloves to preserve them—they smell divine! The sense of smell is very closely linked to the part of the brain that processes memory, so I like to have soaps and potpourri around during the holidays because they quickly bring me back to the holiday magic of my childhood.

Posted by Admin at 9:53 AM  ⁙  0 COMMENTS

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