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Lavender: an international movement
by Mary Powell
Special to the Gazette
On a recent trip to Australia, Scott Nagel confirmed two facts regarding the lavender plant. First, lavender growers throughout the world are a close-knit part of an international lavender movement and second, all those who work within the lavender industry — and many who are simply enamored with lavender — are aware of Sequim’s reputation as the lavender capital of the world.
“There is a worldwide kinship among lavender farmers,” said Nagel, who was invited to speak at the 16th annual Australian Lavender Conference in Tasmania, Australia. “It’s a lifestyle for those who share the love of lavender.”
Nagel, executive director of the recently formed Sequim Lavender Farmers Association, gave two presentations at the two-day conference that included delegates from France, England, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the United States and was sponsored by The Australian Lavender Growers Association (TALGA). He was invited in part because of the reputation of Sequim’s lavender farms and its annual festival.
Sequim’s lavender and lavender farms are world famous, something residents who live among the purple fields already know. Nagel learned, however, that lavender-growing Australians have been visiting farms in and around Sequim for many years. Further, a Hawaiian lavender farmer attending the conference shared his experience working as an intern years ago at Cedarbrook Lavender and Herb Farm here in Sequim.
“Everyone knows about, was talking about, Sequim lavender,” Nagel said.
What did surprise international farmers who have visited Sequim was the tight concentration of lavender farms in one geographic area. In Australia, the 28 or so farms are scattered throughout the continent, Nagel said.
What struck Nagel was the fact that the farmers he met were very similar to those in Sequim, that is, dedicated to lavender and the lavender tourism industry.
“In general, lavender farms everywhere are small family farms and the farmers are industrious and hardworking people,” Nagel said. “Lavender farms all over the world that are tourism destinations are just like farms in our association.”
Aside from the plant itself, many of the attendees at the international conference were interested in how to produce special events such as festivals. Because Nagel has been involved in producing festivals for most of his working career, he was asked to share, from the Sequim perspective, the lavender experience as it revolves around tourism.
“Will tourists who love lavender or are interested in beautiful farms come halfway around the world to attend one of your events and spend money?” Nagel asked his audience. “The answer is yes,” he said, noting up to 30,000 people attend the annual Sequim festival in any one year.
Nagel said he learned a tremendous amount from the conference speakers. “Talking to these delegates, these farms create an environment or ambiance that people all over the world can share and appreciate as they go from farm to farm and country to country.”
After becoming membership exchange partners with TALGA and the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association, Nagel is looking forward to continuing friendships and tips for growing not only lavender but also tourism opportunities.
In fact, the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association hopes to sponsor a tour to Australian lavender farms next January.
“They are excited to host Sequim growers and tourists,” Nagel said.
And Nagel is excited to share information from a convention that proved lavender is not only a plant but also part of an international lavender movement with a bright future — with Sequim smack dab in the middle of the buzz.
Mary Powell is the media coordinator for the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.