Life On Lookout

Lavender Farm on Lookout

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Sarah Fangmann and Kayleigh Brigola from Lilburn, Ga., picking lavender

Is there anything more picturesque than a field of lavender? The pale purple spikes echo the hue of the sky, and lavender’s tranquil beauty has been enjoyed for 2,500 years.
Alice and Bill Marrin, parents of three grown children, didn’t set out to own and operate a lavender farm in their retirement years. But they did want to move from Atlanta, where Alice enjoyed a career as a school librarian, and Bill still works as a consultant.
The fell in love with the property they bought a couple of years ago on Lookout Mountain, but they had no idea about what they would do with it.

“We just knew we wanted fields but also knew we didn’t want to mow!”

“We just knew we wanted fields but also knew we didn’t want to mow!” Alice said. And since their main residence is still in Atlanta, Alice laughed that farm animals wouldn’t fare well.
Alice hales from Texas, where endless fields of lavender are almost commonplace, so she researched the practicality of a lavender farm in Lookout Mountain, Ga. She discovered that deer don’t like lavender, which is half the battle of growing anything in our area. She also discovered lavender is not only a gorgeous crop to grow, but is highly beneficial in many areas. It is believed to have both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and may also be useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression and restlessness. Who doesn’t need help sleeping at times, naturally? Studies have shown that the scent of lavender increases the time you spend in deep (slow wave) sleep. Used for pain relief, migraines, allergies, asthma, depression, acne, dry skin and colic, this pretty plant is certainly a rock star in the herbal world. Other studies have even linked it to treatments for breast cancer in mice.
With all these accolades, it’s curious why lavender farms don’t abound everywhere.
“We are the only one [on Lookout]!” she said, but she hopes there are more soon. “You don’t go to Napa for just one winery – you visit lots of them!”
Lavender needs a hot, dry climate, and our past summer was anything but. However, the Marrins had wonderful results, once they rolled up their sleeves and got to work clearing the fields that back up to Jay and Abbie Brooks’ farm near the Canyon Grill. They also refurbished an existing cabin while they were at it.
“It was a train wreck – full of trash and logs and even old gas tanks,” Alice said. But it didn’t take long for them to plow the fields, amend the soil, and plant 400 little plants in elevated rows so that excess water wouldn’t be a problem. And not long after that, the slender stalks were covered in lavender blooms, making a wonderland of sorts in our backyard.
A member of the U.S. Lavender Growers Association, Alice also planted 25 blueberry bushes and five apple trees on her farm, and opened it for picking this past summer. And, as we all learned from the movie “Field of Dreams,” “If you build it, they will come!” This summer, lots of folks loved picking their own bundles of lavender that Alice tied with a ribbon, and still others made an afternoon of filling their buckets with blueberries. Alice also picked about 60 bunches to take to the Chattanooga Market, and they all sold out quickly.
Lavender is a seasonal crop, so while it’s over until late spring, Alice keeps her thinking cap on. Lavender is drying in her living room, and she makes all manner of products from it, including facial toner and wonderful bath products. When the lavender is in bloom, photo shoots are allowed for a fee, making truly memorable pictures of weddings, anniversaries, engagements, birthdays or any occasion one desires an incredibly picturesque background.

Lookout Lavender is located at 1039 North Moore Road in Rising Fawn, Ga. Email alice@lookoutlavender.com or call (706) 993-1145 for more information, or go to lookoutlavender.com.

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