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Hidden Gems: Livestock farm's transformation into scenic lavender spot


Fields that were once filled with cattle at a farm near Arthur, Ont. are now decorated with five thousand lavender plants.

Tullamore Lavender Co. is open to customers for its first full season, giving them an opportunity to roam, sit for a picnic or pose for the perfect picture.

“In 2019, we did a little test plot. We had a lot of enthusiasm and excitement with how well the test plot did. I think it fooled us into how easy farming might be,” Tullamore owner Stephanie Craig said with a laugh.

The following year, they planted thousands more plants.

Slowly, Craig started adding more elements to the farm, finessing the experience to make it just right for visitors. They hosted some small events, and finally this year they were ready to welcome the public regularly.

In addition to photo opportunities, lavender also finds its way into drinks, snacks and décor sold at Tullamore.

“The idea is that people can come and enjoy the landscape, the beauty, take a great profile picture or selfie, and then also just experience nature,” Craig said.

“[We have] sparkling water that we make here, lavender lemonade, there’s ice cream, popsicles and lavender coffee.”

A mobile shop is parked at Tullamore Lavender Co. on July 4, 2024. (Stefanie Davis/CTV News)

The journey to lavender

With rows of lush purple plants, picnic tables, a storefront and a snack truck, the farm looks quite different to how it did when Craig was growing up.

“I grew up on a dairy farm,” she explained.

“There’s obviously a crop farm here as well, so we still kind of traditionally crop the vast majority, and then we have about two acres here that are lavender.”

Craig was previously living in Toronto and Guelph, leaving behind her communications career when she was drawn back to the farm.

“I had to figure out what’s a way I could farm, but that aligned with my interest and my skills,” she explained.

“I love that [lavender] is a flower that has a shelf life, so it’s just as beautiful dried as it is alive. You can make a lot of fun, creative products with it. It allowed me to explore my creative interest and some of my creative talents, as well as being an agricultural product that allows people to come to the land and actually experience it.”

Her husband, Steve Larmar, also grew up on a dairy farm.

“I came to Guelph to pursue a degree in agriculture. I worked as a dairy cattle breeder for a number of years,” Larmar explained.

He’s now working fulltime as a corn breeder and spends the rest of his time helping on the lavender farm.

“It’s completely new to me in a sense because I’m used to tractor farming,” he said.

“Learning how to farm much more manually, much more hands-on has been interesting. The amount of care on a per-plant basis is completely different.”

Tullamore Lavender Co. owner Stephanie Craig stands in front of a lavender field on July 4, 2024. (Stefanie Davis/CTV News)

Blooming in popularity

The Ontario Lavender Association (OLA) said more lavender farms have been popping up across the province.

“It is very popular because of the many attributes of lavender, the variety of products that can be made and the various activities you can do on a lavender farm,” Christine Arezzi, the education chair with OLA said in an email.

“Also, it can be a very environmentally friendly crop, requiring minimal water and chemicals.”

Despite the plant’s beauty and endless opportunities, Craig said it’s not easy work.

“There’s a lot of interest and more people are doing it, but I would say though that once you get into it – and I was the same – you’re like ‘wow, that’s a lot of work! That’s a lot of physical labour,” she said.

Lavender season is short and sweet, so Tullamore Lavender Co. will only be open until July 21. Top Stories

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