By Ahren von Schnell | Photos by Jessica McCafferty
Adirondack View Lavender exudes tranquility. Perched on a hill above Keeseville New York, it is heavy with the fragrance of lavender. On a breezy, summer day, clouds drift across the sky creating a sun-dappled effect throughout the valley. There is something different here. It is a place where you can feel at home and it is no surprise that people are drawn here.
When owner, Lindsey Pashow, started her business, her goal was to provide opportunities for community members to engage with the natural world in a unique and affordable way. As part of her learning process, she educated herself on the craft of lavender cultivation. She pursued this with impressive commitment, touring growing operations across the United States from New York to Florida, to Washington State. In addition, she was aided by guidance from the greater community of lavender cultivators, which she observed, “There is a wonderful support network of growers.”
Since Pashow planted her first lavender crop of 250 plants in 2019 the farm has expanded to 13-acres growing over 2,000 lavender plants of seven different varieties. The farm has become increasingly popular, drawing larger and larger crowds every year who come to enjoy the activities hosted by Pashow and her family. Those include events like yoga in the lavender, whimsical fairy gardens and crafting days meant to inspire the imagination through designing and assembling one’s own gnome-themed terrarium. She noted, “These are days where kids can tour our fairy and gnome garden, create their own garden, attend a story time, participate in a fairy/gnome parade, pick lavender, eat at a food truck, and more. And I will be reading a children’s book I just published about a little boy’s journey into the magical world of fairies on a lavender farm.”
A variety of products derived from lavender — perfume, candles, artwork, soap, body butter, and bath salts — are all on offer and promise to whisk one’s imagination away to a simpler time. The wares stocked in the farm store and online are nearly all homespun, made with help from family members, including Pashow’s mother, who creates lavender wreaths, wands, quilted items, and even gourds decoratively painted and fashioned to serve as bird houses – perfect for the variety of avian visitors a place like Adirondack View Lavender attracts.
In addition to its fields of lavender, Adirondack View showcases brilliant stands of sunflowers. Their golden crowns, set against the scepters of the lavender, are a fitting accompaniment to the fields of regal blossoms. It is also a reminder that lavender is arguably the queen of flowers.
This is, of course, wholly consistent with the plant’s history, having its roots in the first stirrings of ancient civilizations. Lavender has long been associated with a myriad of virtues, not the least of which is purity of body and soul. The Romans are believed to have infused their bathwater with it, a legacy which can still be found in its name, which is derived from the Latin root lavare, meaning “to wash.”
Lavender’s reputation has long straddled the boundaries of myth, magic and medicine. Ancient belief held that it was an effective ward against the “evil eye” and that it was a sacred plant to Hecate, the Greek goddess of magic, herbal knowledge and protection against witchcraft. In medieval times, it was said to promote harmony in marriage and to ward off malevolent spirits if hung on a door.
Pashow’s process has been characterized by a great deal of forethought. She has a policy of planning for projects and advertising in advance. “We offer U-Pick lavender, fresh lavender in the store, lavender products, and will be making our own essential oil later this year. Our U-Pick operation is offered on specific dates because we need to show people how to cut it.” She added, “Our self-service farm store, open seven days a week from May 1 to October 31, has many different lavender products all made by me and my parents — Dana and Ken Pashow.”
As the only lavender farm in the North Country, there are a lot of opportunities for Pashow to be a trailblazer. While she is still figuring out how to balance everything —the farm is operated as a side project — she has had success in partnering with other local businesses. Adirondack Yoga has successfully collaborated with her to offer classes in the lavender fields, while other individuals, organizations and businesses have assisted, providing a variety of workshops onsite.
Pashow’s full time job is as an Agriculture Business Development and Marketing Specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension, a role which is a natural complement to her work operating the lavender farm. As a grower herself, she has firsthand experience with many of the issues farmers in the North Country face. Not only does this mean she can often anticipate issues which may become regional agricultural priorities, but it also allows for synergy, where skills she has developed as a grower can be applied to better serve producers in the Adirondacks and Champlain Valley.
Ultimately though, the success of Adirondack View Lavender has been due as much to a labor of love than anything else. And with the challenges inherent in cultivating a plant like lavender, which prefers a dryer, warmer climate, it is not unusual for Pashow to lose ten percent of her two thousand plants per year. But for her, it is about contributing something distinctive to the region, something which visitors will take with them as a treasured memory.
The farm welcomes guests for picnics, birthday parties, bridal showers, and weddings amongst the lavender and sunflower blooms. In a place like this, fond memories are just the consolation prize. This is the stuff that dreams are made of.
Adirondack View Lavender LLC
59 Thompson Road
Keeseville, NY 12944