Down a pretty country road in Wright City is an unexpected delight called Long Row Lavender. What started as a 15-acre family farm in 2007 has blossomed (literally) into a growing business, with a café, boutique, classes and beautiful lavender beds.
In addition to growing several varieties of lavender there, owner Tracy Smith says they have partnered with Women on Mission to grow lavender plants in vacant lots in the College Hill area of St. Louis. “They purchase the plants from us wholesale, we provide knowledge and help in getting the beds ready and growing the lavender, then we purchase the harvested lavender to sell in our boutique; they use the proceeds from the lavender sales to help their community,” she explains.
When the family purchased the property, Tracy says she and her husband and four children went over ideas on how they would steward the land and do something together outside as a family. “We started planting vegetables but soon found that the area critters liked to eat everything we planted. After reading about U.S. lavender farms, and seeing how gorgeous they were, then visiting a lavender farm in Eureka, we became enthralled with it, especially with the fact that animals will not eat lavender.”
So, in 2009, they started taking the lavender they grew to local farmer’s markets, and people loved it. “They would come to the booth and say they could smell us from the parking lot, it was so fragrant.”
They sell bundles of lavender to the public, and also debud the lavender to make sachets and other products. “People enjoyed the gift shop, but they would tell us that they’ve traveled a ways to get there and were asking where they could get something to eat. Since there’s not much in the area, and they really didn’t want to leave the farm, we decided that, since we actually needed more storage and work space, we would develop a building to also house a café. It’s been a three-year learning curve, finding out where to source locally, but people are really enjoying it.”
In the café, you’ll find specialty espresso drinks, tea, homemade desserts, and lunch items, such as sourdough grilled cheese, chicken salad and quiche.
Tracy says plans for the near future call for a large patio on the North side of the building. “We want folks to come out, enjoy the beauty of nature, music, lingering with friends. We’re planning to plant daffodils along our walking trails; it would be gorgeous to see them blooming in the spring.”
For more information and directions to Long Row Lavender: LongRowLavender.com.