Lavender festival introduces community to agricultural lifestyle
It was over 30 years ago that Keri Roid first dreamed of growing her own lavender. She loved everything about the plant — the smell, the way it felt when it brushed against her hand, the buzz of the bees collecting pollen from the purple flowers — everything. And after many years of working in the corporate world, she returned to Roseburg from California in 2016 to make her dream come true.
Today she owns and operates Growing Miracles Lavender Garden with her husband Howard. The couple grows 3,500 lavender plants along with 6,000 hazelnut trees on their farm in Roseburg. This weekend they opened up the property to the public for the first ever Lavender Festival and Farm Tour at 508 Lower Garden Valley Road in Roseburg.
From Friday to Sunday, the facility is open for people to shop at several vendor booths and to harvest lavender for themselves. Each day of the festival at 11 a.m., Keri Roid will give a tour of the farm and answer any questions people may have about the agricultural lifestyle.
“This just feels like a little piece of paradise,” she said,” and I like to share it with people.”
On Friday, people with scissors harvested their own branches of lavender for $5 a bundle. Kat Johnson and her mother-in-law, Lori Combs, were two of those people. Combs recently moved to Roseburg from California a few months ago and said that the Lavender Festival was the first event she attended since moving to the area. Johnson explained that she likes to make oils out of the lavender plants and other plants like sunflowers.
At one of the stations, visitors could make wreaths out of the flowers. At another, where Noel and Belle Nibblett sat, lavender wands were being made by hand. Small bundles of lavender are woven together with ribbon in order to help preserve the flower’s fragrant scent for years. Belle Nibblett said that the whole process takes about 15 minutes and that she finds the weaving to be quite meditative.
The couple grow 600 lavender plants of their own on their property in Lookingglass. They started growing the drought-tolerant crop for its beauty. While they admit it’s just a hobby, they enjoy how selling their plants at the local farmers’ markets have given their daughter, Nolia, a chance to improve her entrepreneurial skills.
On Friday and Sunday, a local chapter of the Oregon FFA Association will be running a hot dog stand fundraiser at the festival in honor of Lee Sand, Roid’s father-in-law who past away last February. On Saturday the hot dog stand will be replaced by the food truck Wrappin and Rollin.
One of the 20 vendors at the festival was Leon Glaser of JosephJane Winery. Established in 2017, the winery is right next door to Roid’s farm. Glaser said that the Roids proposed the idea of the winery producing a lavender wine a few months ago, which Glaser was selling at the festival. He said the sweet, chilled refreshment was the perfect drink for the warm weather.
“This is my first time doing something like this and I’m really happy with the results,” Glaser said about the lavender wine. “Either we got lucky or we’re that good — some combination.”
Oregon Lavender Association, of which Growing Miracles Lavender Garden is a member of, sponsors a weekend each year to promote lavender growers. Eighteen farms with OAL hosted similar lavender festivals across the state this weekend, Keri Roid said.
She said she hopes that her festival encourages other local lavender growers to open their farms to visitors next year as well. Her goal is to turn Roseburg into a destination for lavender enthusiasts everywhere.
“I knew somebody had to do it first and I was ready,” she said. “So I’m hoping that next year that they’ll open their farms to the lavender festival. If we can get three or four farms in Roseburg, or in the county, it makes us a destination, too. Which can’t do anything but help our area.”