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Lavender’s next generation
by MATTHEW NASH
The sea of purple remains the same at Jardin du Soleil Lavender Farm and Store but the names and faces are abloom with change.
After growing lavender since 1999 on the 10-acre former dairy farm in Dungeness, Pam and Randy Nicholson recently sold the lavender institution to California couple Paul and Jordan Schiefen.
The Nicholsons said via e-mail that they returned to the Southwest to be closer to their family and to look for new ventures.
“We always intended to eventually sell the farm and return to the Southwest,” Pam Nicholson said. ”We accomplished what we set out to do at Jardin du Soleil and felt it was time to move on.”
In September, the Schiefens harvested late-blooming lavender for the first time.
Paul Schiefen said the Nicholsons gave them a crash course for a few weeks about the ins and outs of harvesting lavender and distilling it for essential oil.
“(They) are the perfect buyers for the farm,” Pam Nicholson wrote. “They are a young couple with lots of energy and ideas. We knew they could take Jardin du Soleil to the next step.”
The Schiefens discovered Sequim during a 4½-month cross-country road trip this summer after Paul sold his company, The Brownwood Insurance Agency, which he took over from his father in 1999 and where he had worked since 1989.
He found insurance wasn’t what he wanted to do any more. Jordan quit her job as a preschool teacher and the couple, with their two children, Jack, 4½, and Lucca, 1½, hit the road.
They weren’t looking for a lavender farm specifically but simply an existing farm.
“I wanted a place for the family to be together and for the kids to run around,” Jordan said.
Preserving the farm’s reputation
The Schiefens continue to work with caretaker Edgar Martinez in learning the lavender trade and plan to keep a lot of things the same.
“This has a big reputation we don’t want to lose,” Jordan said.
Jardin du Soleil is the Schiefens’ full-time job now, caring for the farm and creating new products along with bringing up their two children.
“We’re just as busy as we were, but it’s a better busy,” Paul said.
The farm’s look and feel should remain the same with some subtle changes, the couple said. One goal of theirs is to add a line of children’s lavender products and more T-shirts in the store. They want to install a barn for a more hands-on experience, which fits another goal to involve visitors more.
“After two months, we’re still trying to find out who our customers are,” Jordan said.
“People coming for products are older, but people who only visit the farm to look are a lot of younger people interested in agri-tourism,” Paul said.
The Schiefens enlisted help from other lavender farmers in following the lavender learning curve. They’ll join the Farms on Tour portion of the Sequim Lavender Farm Faire run by the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association this summer.
Following the sale, the Nicholsons said they would miss the camaraderie of the lavender farmers, friendships and support from the Sequim community.
“July will be very dull this year,” Pam Nicholson wrote.
Paul said he respects what the original farms have done for lavender in the area.
“We couldn’t do this without them,” he said.
For more information on Jardin du Soleil, contact the Schiefens at 582-1185, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.jardindusoleil.com.