News

Sequim lavender association splits

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

Philosophical and administrative differences within the Sequim Lavender Growers Association led 11 farmers and founders to leave the organization on Jan. 8 at a special meeting called by the association members.

The new group, Sequim Lavender Farmers Association, comprises all the Lavender Festival tour farms and others including: Angel Farm, Cedarbrook Lavender & Herb Farm, Jardin du Soleil Lavender, Moosedreams Lavender Farm, Purple Haze Lavender, Olympic Lavender, Port Williams Lavender, Sunshine Herb & Lavender Farm, Victor’s Lavender, Washington Lavender, and Weary Gardener.

“This new association is dedicated to returning to the core values and original purposes of the founders of the lavender movement in Sequim Valley; to promote the growing of lavender, reclaiming former farmlands for lavender production, and maintaining Sequim as the lavender center of North America,” said Vickie Oen, general manager of Purple Haze, in a written statement.

“The 11 of us did not see this going in the farming direction,” Oen said. “That’s who we are, what we are and where we’re going.”

She and others in the Farmers Association feel their focus is on organizational structure and developing a long-range business plan to ensure the continued growth and support of the lavender farmers of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.

Terry Stolz, Growers Association president and owner of Sierra Nevada Soap, said all he’s been told is that the Farmer’s Association philosophy is different from the direction the Growers Association is going.

Lavender Festival status
The Sequim Lavender Growers Association retains the rights to the Sequim Lavender Festival and all trademarks of it, including “Lavender Capital of North America” and Celebrate Lavender. The festival still is set for July 15-17.

“We want to focus on being a community event,” Stolz said.

“What better forum is there than a world-class festival where a diversity of people can assemble, enjoy themselves free of charge and support their favorite cause? We want to go in a different direction and eliminate the perception that events, such as ours, are all about sales. This is our philosophy and
administrative direction.”

In a separate press release, Stolz said the Growers Association’s philosophical belief is to promote charity through commerce at this year’s event.

“This will be a festival where the community will become involved in pledging support to many local charities and becoming aware about the needs of others,” Stolz said.

Scott Nagel, executive director for the Sequim Lavender Festival, said he remains executive director of the Sequim Lavender Festival and chooses not to comment on the relationship between the two groups.

Stolz said that the Growers Association is encouraged that Nagel has agreed to accept the challenges that this realignment has created and has pledged to promote and produce a festival that will celebrate its 15th year on the peninsula.

Send-off
Stolz said the Growers Association members wish the Farmers Association success in their new endeavors.

“Several of them were groundbreaking pioneers in the lavender industry, and all of them were an integral part in the success of all of the Sequim Lavender Festivals,” he said.

Oen said the Farmers Association would not join this year’s festival if asked.

“Our visions are too different,” Oen said.

“We’re excited. This is a new beginning.”

Oen said it is too soon after the split for her group to talk about planning a farm tour or festivities.

The Farmers Association plans to remain a nonprofit and to meet several times in the next month to reorganize. Nagel said the Growers Association would be meeting several times in the near future, too.

Read more about the Sequim Lavender Festival at www.lavenderfestival.com and Sequim Lavender Growers Association at www.lavendergrowers.org.

Contact Vickie Oen about the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association at 683-1714.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

 

 

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