Lavender is in the cards for Ivy Cheung’s farm in Fall City, which has been pumping out the flowers for the past four years.
The one-acre farm is also a one-woman show, with Cheung doing most of the farming and distillation with some weekend help from some friends. Cheung said she didn’t intend to start a farm, originally hoping to sell the property. However, due to zoning regulations, which only allowed for one house on the property, selling was out of the question, so she started thinking.
“We have this land, we have this house,” she said while sitting inside the modest farm house on the property on a recent morning.
Cheung took a certification course offered by King County designed to educate people how to run small farms, but she was unsure what she should grow. Fruit was out of the question since deer regularly wander onto her property and eat anything they can, including roses. Finally, one of her classmates suggested she try lavender. Following a trip to the Sequim Lavender Festival, she was sold and decided to ultimately purchase 1,500 starts of the iconic purple flowers.
As it turns out, her rocky property was perfect for the flowers, which prefer drier soils than is usually found in the area. Despite wet conditions last year, which killed some flowers, she still has around 1,500. Additionally, the perennial plants are now mature enough to turn into oil, which Cheung has been doing over the last year with a small distiller. Around 1.5 pounds of the flower can be turned into roughly once ounce of oil, which she sells in addition to cut flowers, soap and bags of dried flower shake.
“We make quite a lot of product,” Cheung said.
Cheung grows five varieties of lavender, with the majority beginning to bloom in July in earnest, but a few rows have already started blooming.
Washington state is a destination for lavender lovers, according to the Pacific Horticulture Society. Each year the Lavender Festival in Sequim sees more than 50 acres of the flowers bloom in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley. Often thought of as being purple, variants of the plant produce white and pink flowers as well, with a variety of uses such as oils, flavoring for ice cream and beverages and body care products.
Cheung’s Snofalls Lavender Farm is located at 4725 361st Ave. S.E. in Fall City.