By Nicole Kidder-Perry
Nestled between Nine Mile Falls and Deer Park sits one of Eastern Washington’s best-kept secrets — the largest certified organic lavender farm in the U.S. – Evening Light Lavender.
The aromatic botanical farm tantalizes all the senses. The 40-acre property overlooks the rolling Wild Rose Prairie hills, framed by a magnificent backdrop of Mt. Spokane to the east and the Selkirk Mountains to the north. The surrounding forest provides a majestic canopy of willow and maple trees, offering up a serene place for romantic picnics and enchanting family outings while the eyes feast upon the vast hues of purple pink and white lavender that waft up sweet scents from the fields below. The photo opportunities around the property are plentiful.
“We really wanted to create a place where people can come to experience peace and beauty to restore their mind, body and spirit,” explains owner Sandra Shuff. “It is so beautiful here, and we want people to experience it. We simply want to share what we have been blessed with.”
The farm is home to nearly 21,000 lavender plants in 41 varieties along with 2,000 fall-blooming rose geraniums and an assortment of herbs, other flowers and grasses that are then distilled into natural products used for home and holistic health care. Evening Light also operates as a U-pick farm, allowing visitors to cut their own bundles. Prices range from $10 to $30, depending on the size of the bundle. Guests are given a wooden board with three pre-cut holes of varying sizes and a pair of scissors and are then turned loose to snip their own bouquets. Lavender blooms can erupt as early as June and last into August, depending on the seasonal heat.
For the past seven years, in early July, the farm has hosted the region’s only Lavender Festival, a family-oriented event where attendees spend the weekend wandering the vast property, shopping at local vendor booths and playing lawn games. After picking their lavender bundles, guests enjoy lounging under the Brighton Hall pavilion while listening to local musicians and sipping the farm’s signature lavender lemonade or savoring the specialty lavender ice cream.
Shuff plans to expand the festival next year by adding more vendors. A Lavender Lovers package is available for pre purchase, which includes entry to the festival, a serving of lemonade and ice cream, a sachet, a small U-pick bouquet, and a T-shirt. Regular ticket prices are $10, and children under 9 are free.
“It’s a really fun event, and people love collecting the shirts and wearing them to the next festival,” says Shuff, who fondly recalls the couple who have attended every festival, showing up in a shirt and hat from years past. “A fun family tradition is for kids to stand in front of the plant row number that represents their age and take a picture. A couple who got married here came back to introduce us to their newborn. The fact that our place means something to people means a lot to us.”
Building a Dream of Lavender Fields
The Shuff family settled on the farm 22 years ago after moving from the Seattle area. After raising her children, Sandra began dreaming of building a lavender farm venue in 2010, so they set to work clearing trees and rocks, preparing the soil and finally planted a single field of 10 rows. Landing a distillation contract with a cosmetic company prompted Shuff to plant more to meet the growing need. Those contracts have since extended to working with several health and wellness companies to make digestibles and essential oils. She currently distills 52 different botanicals onsite and processes four varieties for culinary use.
“I had no idea it would get this big,” said Shuff, who now cultivates seven fields, “but after I realized that most of the mass-produced lavender we consume was all adulterated, I was inspired to use my skills as a certified aromatherapist to grow high-quality, fully organic lavender to use in health care products. I have a true passion to guide people into a healthy life through holistic resources. Everything here is made with fresh ingredients, not dried.”
A master artisan distiller, Shuff has traveled the world to be mentored by world leaders. She now shares her knowledge as an educator, training other entrepreneurs in aromatherapy formulation and how to launch businesses in agri-tourism, wedding venues and distillation. She also serves as the regional director for both the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists (NAHA) and United States Lavender Growers Association (USLGA) and is on the executive board of the Washington Lavender Association (WLA). Additionally, the farm hosts fall and spring botanical classes, ladies night outs, school field trips and farm tours to see the distillation process in action.
“It’s been exciting to watch this industry grow,” says Shuff, who notes that several new lavender farms will soon be sprouting up in the area. “My goal is to grow the highest-quality, purest, ethically-produced lavender using sustainably harvested materials.”
In her specialized copper still room, she whips up oils and hydrosols to infuse into a medley of products, including soaps, salts, scrubs and lotions, which are then sold onsite or through her online store, Positively Aromatic. The line of organic merchandise extends to home cleaning products, such as dryer balls and carpet freshener, as well as home goods, such as towels, blankets, sachet bundles and dried wreaths. She even offers a men’s line of lavender-infused beard oils and waxes, hand and shave soaps and facial creams. Her signature line of Lavender Lovies consists of 8-inch-tall stuffed animals that are “born on the farm,” complete with birth certificates, and filled with dried organic lavender buds and love.
Building upon her wedding planning experience, an industry Shuff began working at the age of 17, she also transformed the horse arena into a wedding venue lawn that can accommodate up to 500 guests. Since 2015, Lavender Manor has hosted hundreds of weddings and now offers four ceremonial sites, including Pemberley Park, Lady Catherine Place, Heartwood Forest and Brighton Hall. As huge Jane Austen fans, the wedding locations and lavender fields are named after people and places in the book Pride and Prejudice. The farm is also available for company picnics, business meetings, baby showers and educational seminars.
“We want everyone to experience the beauty and tranquility of Evening Light Lavender Farm,” said Shuff. “Come out, see what distillation is about, sample our products, and try a tasty lavender chocolate bar or lemonade. It’s a great way to break away from the city and enjoy the country.”
Evening Light Lavender
5552 S. Wallbridge Road
Deer Park, WA 99006
Tuesday – Friday 9:30-6:00