Rock Creek Lavender: Local lavender farm aims to share with others the amazing smells, sights and benefits of lavender
A fragrant field of lavender lies just north of Sabetha. The lavender farm is the home of Rock Creek Lavender, run by Jennifer and Matt Herrmann.
It all started one lazy summer afternoon a few years ago when Jennifer was searching Google for “fun things to do in Kansas.” The search turned up a lavender farm in Topeka.
After a phone call to the owners, Jennifer discovered that they were retired, and the farm was mostly overgrown with weeds and no longer open to the public.
“This intrigued me to know that lavender could grow in this area, so I began more research and found out that there are quite a few lavender farms in Kansas,” she said. “One of the farms I was most interested in visiting was in Lawrence. So a couple weeks later, we took a trip to the farm in Lawrence only to find that the fields had already been harvested. After speaking with the owners, I became even more interested in beginning my own lavender farm. The owners were so kind that they gave me a tour of their drying room and [explained] the process that they use for distilling lavender to make lavender oil and the budding dried bundles.”
In 2018, Jennifer and her husband Matt decided to try their hands at growing lavender. So, they planted 50 plants as a test plot.
“We had five different varieties with 10 plants of each variety. We wanted to see which plant variety would grow back best in our region,” Jennifer said.
Unfortunately, that summer was very dry and so was the winter. The Herrmanns had 100 percent plant loss. In summer 2019, they moved their test plot and did more ground prep. They also increased their plants to 220 plants that consisted of six different lavender varieties.
“We took more precaution in protecting the young plants as well as setting up a rain collection irrigation system in order to water them more adequately,” she said.
Once again, a very harsh winter caused more than 50 percent loss of the plant population.
“But there were blessings with it also,” Jennifer said. “We were able to identify the varieties that are more hearty for our harsh winters and humid summers.”
Lavender is a Mediterranean plant that prefers a warmer climate and well drained, rocky soil. Lavender grows in the summer months and usually is ready for its first harvest or pruning the second week in July. Lavender is invigorated by cutting. In fact, Jennifer said, each cutting promotes plant growth therefore producing more buds the following year. There is a second harvest as well. This usually occurs in early fall. But this pruning is more in preparation for winter
One of the things that intrigues Jennifer most about the lavender plant is the benefits it provides.
“Though it is most known for ability to help with sleeping and relaxation there are many uses for lavender including health benefits,” she said. “According to Medical News Today, lavender can be used to treat anxiety, fungal infections, hair loss and wounds. It is most commonly used for insomnia, depression and restlessness. It can also be consumed in tea to help with digestive issues such as nausea and intestinal gas or upset stomach. In addition, it can help relieve pain from headaches, sprains, toothache, minor sunburns and bug bites. It’s also been used as a bug repellent.”
Currently, Rock Creek Lavender offers fresh and dried bundles (in season) culinary lavender, lavender sugar scrub, lavender goat milk soap and lavender lip balm. Just recently, Rock Creek Lavender started offering bath bombs.
“Each product is made or enhanced with lavender grown in our field,” she said. “Other ingredients are added depending on the product that being made. Every product is homemade.”
The amount of lavender used per product really depends on what is being made. Some products take a couple drops of lavender essential oil and lavender buds for aesthetic enhancement. However, there are other products such as distilling lavender that takes several bundles to get even an ounce of lavender oil.
While Jennifer makes most of the products herself, she does enlist the help of her husband and children when it comes time for weed pulling, mowing and harvesting.
As for the product she likes best, Jennifer said it is difficult to pick a favorite.
“It’s hard to pick just one when each one is so great! I use each product I make not just because it smells so wonderful but also to ensure it’s a good product. If I want to use it, then I know it’ll be good for others,” she said. “The lip balm is so smooth and it smells wonderful. The soap is gentle enough to use all over and leaves the skin feeling moisturized with a soft scent of lavender behind.”
Jennifer also enjoys using the sugar scrub on her hands after washing dishes or on my legs after shaving.
“Each night, I spritz my pillow with the lavender linen spray,” Jennifer said. “It smells so nice snuggling into my pillow. As you can see, it’s hard to pick just one!”
Recently, Rock Creek Lavender hosted its first farm tour.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of ladies to tour around,” Jennifer said. “We talked about the history, our successes and failures of growing lavender, and of course, our enjoyment of this beautiful plant.”
On the tour, the group debudded some dried bundles and enjoyed some lavender lemonade.
The Herrmanns welcome any guest to their lavender farm, and hope to do more farm tours in the future. Jennifer said she hopes that in the future, they can host “you-picks.”
Jennifer is a Sabetha native, graduating from Sabetha High School. Jennifer teaches third grade at Sabetha Elementary School. Her husband Matt, also an SHS graduate, and works for AHRS and ranches part-time. The Herrmanns have three children — Audrey, 14; Ty, 9; and Wyatt, 5.
Rock Creek Lavender products are sold at Village Sampler and the Farmers Market in Sabetha and The Market Greenhouse and Garage in Seneca.
For more information, email [email protected] or call 307-388-0223. Follow Rock Creek Lavender on Facebook at @rkcrklavender.