We recently spoke to Joe Orcutt from Hood River Lavender Farms.
Hood River is an essential oil distillery, wholesale farm and u-pick farm that actually consists of three certified organic farms.
In addition to lavender, Hood River's farms produce pears, nectarines, plums, pluots, apricots, blueberries, grapes and other berries. Here's what Joe had to share with us!
What originally turned you on to organic, pesticide-free farming methods?
As a family, we started eating organic, and growing our own garden organically many years ago. We were concerned about synthetic chemicals we were consuming and discovered what "real" food tastes like.
So when we started farming commercially, we knew we had to uphold our convictions about the product, the environment and our responsibility to better the land we hand down to our future generations. The challenge to continue this organic farming venture has become easier the last few years, primarily due to the internet and like-minded folks out there who publish information and methods on how to nourish soil and grow its nutrient value in a sustainable way.
Can you tell us a little more about the two varieties of lavender exclusive to your farm?
True lavender produces viable seeds. When you grow over 70 varieties, the possible combinations of parent Mother-Father reproduction becomes huge.
We often observe new lavender starts that pop up in our fields to see if the start looks like a new variety and perhaps one we want to propagate.
The two varieties that we have seriously propagated we have named "Mt. Hood" and "D'Lucy." Mt. Hood is a very prolific plant that continues to bloom through out the summer. We have often seen three to four bloom periods from this variety. The flowers are a pale blue, on long stems, and although it's a great landscape plant the essential oil is average. "D'Lucy"--named after my wife and her late grandmother--is a darker flower plant, shorter stem, and more a keen to a True Hidcote or Folgate variety. Because they are both unique to our farm, they are popular with our customers.
What’s your favorite way to use Lavender essential oil?
My favorite way to use Lavender oil is as a sleep aid and to help calm me down during hectic and stressful situations. I have used Lavender oil on pulse points--mostly my temples and forehead--before I lay down at night for years, and am still amazed how well it carries me to a relaxed state where sleep awaits me.
Can you share a favorite recipes using dried culinary lavender?
My personal favorite recipes are the first two on our recipe page, Lavender Shortbread and Lavender Vanilla Honey Shake.
What are some of Hood River Lavender’s most popular products?
Our most popular items are our essential oils and our culinary lavender. Followed closely by our Silk Lotion (which over 20% by volume is our lavender hydrosol), Mega Therapy Cream, Shea Butter Balm and Lavender Spritzer.
Can you give us an insider’s recommendation on where to say in the Hood River area?
If a Bed & Breakfast is what you like then I would recommend Old Parkdale Inn, Villa Columbia, or you can check with our local B & B directory. For a more conventional stay, I would recommend The Hood River Hotel, it's a very warm almost European style hotel in the heart of quaint Hood River.
Visit Hood River Lavender Farms online, and if you stop by, tell them we said hello!