“Heaven is a place on earth...” so the song goes, and we stumbled into heaven when we found this gorgeous 25 acre (10H) property at Little Hartley, nestled into the western foothills of the Blue Mountains, near Sydney, Australia.
Hello! I am Louise and together with my partner Bruce, we have been creating Blue Mountains Lavender Farm since 2018 and it is still far from finished! We love this beautiful mountain valley, and our land has a perfect northwest aspect on gentle slopes and the climate is dictated by our altitude of 800 metres, meaning warm to hot dry summers and cold, frosty and sometimes snowy winters.
From the outset we wanted to make good use of the land and grow some type of horticultural crop without negatively impacting the health of our water supply, remnant eucalyptus bush land and the native birds and animals of the area. The variety of plant needed to be resistant to insect attack and diseases and be unpalatable to visitors like kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and cockatoos.
We wanted a long lived plant that thrives with minimal water, produces a seasonal crop with low fertiliser requirements and can be managed by hand without large equipment. If that wasn’t enough of a wish list, the crop ideally should be of high value with possibilities to value add into products to sell locally. Phew!
The choice was obvious, it had to be LAVENDER!
OUR BEAUTIFUL LAVENDER
The first lavender tubestock varieties went into the ground in November 2018, just in time to experience the worst drought in local history throughout 2019 and then historic bushfires burned all around in summer 2019/20.
We are so lucky that lavender is one tough herb.
We now grow four cultivars of L. angustifolia, five varieties of L. intermedia which we harvest for distillation into essential oil and dry for culinary and craft uses. We also have planted out our gardens with multiple ornamental L. stoechas, L. pendunculata hybrids and L. pinnata in amongst roses, lilacs and salvias.
ARTISAN ESSENTIAL OIL DISTILLERY
During the summer flowering season, usually through December, the lavender is harvested by hand at the optimum time for either drying or to distill for the precious essential oil.
How we distill Blue Mountains Lavender Essential Oil
The heart of our distillery is our stunning traditional Copper Alembic Column Still which runs for hours at a time to extract the liquid goodness from lavender in a steam distillation process.
Copper stills have been used for centuries by artisans to separate liquids from solids with copper having greater thermal conductivity than other metals and also assists with extraction of unwanted sulphuric elements during the steaming process.
Distillation begins with packing fresh or dried lavender into the column section of the still, then heating the water in the pot below to a temperature that produces steam.
The steam rises through the flower material picking up the volatile oil on the way and this vapour rises through the top into the swan neck and is pushed down into the copper condenser coil surrounded by cold water at all times.
Once the hot vapour is cooled by this process it becomes liquid and flows into the collection flask where the less dense essential oil sits on top of the distilled flower water which we call hydrosol.
Each variety is distilled separately to produce a pure single origin Essential Oil that reflects the health of our soil, our clean air, altitude and climate, the care and nurture taken in cultivation and the expertise in timing harvest and distillation.
BLUE MOUNTAINS LAVENDER WINS FIRST PRIZE IN 2023 ESSENTIAL OIL AWARDS!
What a delightful surprise to be awarded First Prize in the 'Triploid' category of the Olfactory Oil Competition conducted
by The Australian Lavender Growers' Association and announced at their biennial Conference held in May 2023!
Our winning oil was distilled in January 2023 from the beautiful cultivar L. x intermedia 'Riverina Alan'. The judging was based on expert assessment of the fragrance and intensity of the essential oil and our sample was competing
against entries from all over Australia, New Zealand and the USA.
Just like a fine wine is a product of its' 'terroir' and the wine makers skill, our essential oil is a result of our soil, climate and growing methods, the timing of harvesting and the skill in controlling the distillation process
and it is so satisfying to know the traditional artisanal method of distillation in our Copper Alembic Still produces
a quality oil that smells amazing!
While we don't have the quantity of the Award winning oil to sell as a single cultivar oil to the public, it is included in the blend of the three cultivars in our Pure Lavender Essential Oil 'Intermedia' available on our shopping page by clicking here.
I GROW AND MAKE...
I MAKE • I grow lavender flowers and distill the essential oil and make bodycare and lifestyle products that promote good sleep and a calm mind.
I LOVE WHAT I DO • I love what I do because the sensory pleasure that lavender brings nurtures the earth, my customers and me!
For me being a Maker is about nurture and respect. Growing a herb like lavender uses the land in a low impact way, provides nectar for beneficial insects and produces an oil that goes into products that nurture our health and wellbeing. Respect for the land and for it's bounty gives me Maker energy.
I focus on the natural qualities of lavender to make products to bring calm and relieve anxiety, sooth and heal the skin and promote deep restorative sleep. I also grow complementary botanicals which I process, infuse in healing oils and add to my small batch formulations which are all hand made on the farm.
I love the care and attention that goes into hand made products and the satisfaction of the paddock-to-person growing and production cycle.
I have been so encouraged by the welcome and support received since our November 2020 launch into the Blue Mountains hand made community, it's been a warm embrace!