We adore working with people who love what they do. Victor Gonzalez is one of those people. Not only does he have a special passion for lavender, Victor is also an expert propagator and grower of the herb. His working lavender farm is known throughout the world, in fact, he's the farmer who supplies the other farms with exquisite lavender. Located in the rain shadow of Mount Olympus, Victor’s Lavender Farm sits on 2 acres of rich soil in Sequim, Washington.
This summer we took a road trip to the Olympic Peninsula and we meet with Victor and toured his family farm. He graciously extended a warm welcome and took the time to answer our questions.
How long have you been growing lavender?
I started in the lavender business in 1996 and bought my own farm in 2002. I sold my house when the market was high and bought this place. This used to be a dairy farm and this (office) used to be a butcher shop. I cleaned this place up, it was full of manure, and then I built a green house and that’s how I got started.
How many acres do you have on your farm?
I have two of my own, and I’m leasing two from my neighbor. So I’m using 4 acres. Acres are not too important for me because what I do is grow the live flowerless plants and so I need green houses. I use my stock to cut and then I germinate. I have three thousand mother plants. Every year I am opening up more green houses. At first, I thought “two acres is too big” but now it’s very tiny. I wish I could have ten acres.
How many varieties do you grow?
I have about 150 varieties right here on the farm. Six to ten of those are the main commercial varieties. My goal is to produce more than one-quarter of a million plants per season. I ship live plants all over the United States and Canada. This is my last week of shipping plants (late June).
The gift shop (barn previously used for milking cows) is open three months of the year and on the last day of August, I close it. I take September off because in October I start all over again and make more plants. Before April comes I have over one-quarter of a million plants. All our green houses are packed; everything is full. That is why I lease green houses because I don’t have enough space here.
I also visit farms all over the nation, if people don’t know how to grow, what variety will grow, they don’t know the soil. And so they come to me or if they want me to go their places, I go. I help them to get started and succeed and I guide them in the direction of the market.
How many staff do you employ?
I employ two full-time staff members in addition to myself, my wife and son.
What is your personal favorite type of lavender and why?
Of course, Grosso is number one for the looks and for the bouquets and it yields a lot of oil. Different varieties are good for different purposes. Grosso is about 60% of my sales.
Why is this area the best place to grow lavender?
This is one of the best places to grow lavender because of the rich soil and we are protected by the mountains. It doesn’t get too hot; there is not too much rain.
On the tour, Victor showed us his green houses, which were almost depleted of plants by this time of the year, the stock (mother plants) and the barn where he dries his lavender.
As the global lavender ambassador, we trust Victor to send us the best lavender oil from the plants he propagated, distilled by one of his partners. We are proud to help support this regionally located business by using their locally produced essential oil in our soap.
The farm is located at 3743 Old Olympic Highway, Port Angeles, Washington. If you find yourself on the Olympic Peninsula during the third weekend in July, the annual Lavender Festival is a must see. You will love it! Sequim and the surrounding Dungeness Valley hosts one of the biggest lavender celebrations in North America and is not to be missed. The valley is internationally recognized as the premier grower of lavender. You can also connect with Victor on line at http://victorslavender.com A huge “thank you” to Victor for his hospitality and contribution to the industry.
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