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35,000 Lavender Plants Thrive in the White Mountains

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Did you know there is a lavender farm in the White Mountains? It is Red Rock Ranch and Farms LLC located in Concho, Arizona.  You will have a chance to visit it during the Lavender Festival in June.

Red Rock Ranch and Farms has the distinction of being the first commercial lavender farm in Arizona.

The inspiration for a lavender farm came during a trip to Provence, France in1994. At the time, the fields of lavender were in bloom.

With similar terrain, growing conditions, and wind conditions, it was decided to take a stab at growing lavender. It was interesting that in Provence they have similar wind conditions as we have in the White Mountains. They are called the Mistral’s. While most other plants struggle in windy conditions, lavender is actually strengthened by the wind.

200 ‘Provence’ and ‘Grosso’ lavender plants were started in a test plot in the fall of 1998 to find out how they would grow in the weather conditions and altitude. At that time, just a handful of U.S. growers were planting lavender at higher elevations. Not certain the plants would survive through the winter by summer they were thriving. More lavender of different varieties was planted in new fields.

It is now a known fact that lavender grown at higher altitudes actually has beneficial qualities; the ester content of the flower is more intense at higher altitudes and the essential oil more prized.

Now rows and rows of lavender grow on land that was previously used as grazing land for sheep and cattle. Lavender is eco-friendly, draught tolerant, and every part of the lavender plant can be used. It is also pest, deer, and rabbit resistant. It is the perfect plant to have in any garden. It is a showstopper in bloom with its beauty and fragrance but just as attractive when not in bloom.

Those first years when the lavender was in full bloom, it was an ideal opportunity to share this experience with others. In 2003, 35 guests were invited to tour the lavender farm. The response was overwhelming and word spread. The following year 225 invited guests enjoyed the lavender tours. It kept growing over the next few years, as it remained an event by invitation only.

More fields were added and a farm store built to prepare for more visitors. In 2007, the farm was open to the public without reservations or by special invitation.

It was renamed the Lavender Festival. Festival activities were added such as: Lavender Growing Discussions, Lavender Cooking Demonstrations and Tastings, and a Topic of the Day. Topics are on the schedule this year include Lavender Party Foods, Grilling with Lavender, Watercolor Demonstration and more. The farm store is fully stocked with lavender products made on the farm and lavender plants are for sale. For a truly complete festival experience, order a Festival Package online that includes a lavender themed box lunch, entry and a U-Cut bouquet to take home with you.

Red Rock Ranch and Farms is only open to the public during the two weeks of the Lavender Festival when the lavender is in bloom. The 2016 lavender festival dates are Thursday, June 23 through Sunday, June 26 and again Thursday, June 30 through Sunday, July 3. Open 9:00 AM- 3:00 PM; Entry $5.00. All festival activities are included in admission except for the Festival Meal Packages and U-Cut Lavender.

Visit www.redrockfarms.com or call 928-337-2289 for Lavender Festival information, activity schedule, driving directions, and to order Festival Meal Packages.

Plan to attend the Lavender Festival during this window of opportunity. Stroll through the fields, take part in the activities, cut you own lavender, taste the free lavender lemonade, take photos, relax and enjoy yourself.

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