Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Fields of Lavender in the Upstate

From the years we spent living in France, I can say it is a scene far more associated with Provence than the Upstate. However a local business has brought the south of France to South Carolina, and five years in has a booming business of lavender that is currently open to the public for you-pick, just 30 minutes from Greenville!

You might have met Southern Hills Lavender owners Tim and Mary Bergstrom at the Travelers Rest Farmers Market (we've got one of their plants growing in the garden!), or at one of the many speaking engagements they regularly attend. Their journey started in 2010 with a dream, and after several years of research and a move from Maryland back to South Carolina, Southern Hills Lavender was born in 2014. After planting one acre of lavender in 2015, they opened to the public in 2016 for their first you-pick. Imagine their surprise when instead of the expected 2,000 customers they attracted 8,000 visitors in a single day!

After that immensely successful first season, Southern Hills Lavender has continued to grow, building a small store that sells lavender products & hosts workshops, and beginning to propagate lavender in their greenhouse. Last year they opened their lavender fields to you-pick, classes and a Plein Air Day, and began to take bookings for photographers, groups, weddings, and events.

On this third year of you-pick, Southern Hills Lavender opened their farm in late May; the you-pick days will continue through June 16th. In addition to picking lavender visitors can shop for lavender products, picnic at one of the tables under the giant oaks, and learn about growing lavender on one of the tours. There is a special tent geared towards children with sensory play, including lavender scented rice and cloud dough. Make sure and try some lavender lemonade!

The farm is located in Greer, an easy but scenic 30 minute drive from Greenville. On our recent visit we arrived just after the farm opened at 9am, and were warmly greeted at the ticket tent. Tickets can be purchased beforehand, however walk-ups are welcome; the difference in the price of the ticket goes directly to Greer Relief. We picked up baskets and scissors along with picking instructions, and then were free to explore the fields.

Southern Hills has multiple kinds of lavender growing, different shades ranging from the palest pink so as to be almost white, to the deepest of purples. With almost a dozen cultivars we were able to find lavender stems in different stages of bloom with subtle differences in smell – although all were simply heavenly! Bundles start at $2 and you can choose how much you pick, or you can just relax and enjoy the feast for the senses…

A trip to Southern Hills Lavender is a great activity for the family. Admission for children under 7 is free, and my almost-4 year old was able to quickly get the hang of how to properly cut the lavender and enjoy himself tremendously. Older children might enjoy the touring talk (there’s one at 10am and one at 1pm), while younger children will have fun at the children’s tent. A morning spent on the farm is full of photo opportunities, and you’ll be overjoyed to take home a sweet-smelling souvenir of your visit that will continue to scent your home in the days to come.

For more on the lunch option, prices, tickets and types of lavender, please visit the Southern Hills Lavender website. You’ll want to follow their gorgeous Instagram feed, and stay tuned for the next Feast in the Field, a lavender-themed dinner with a local and seasonal menu, coming this fall!

The resident pair of nesting kildeer plover


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