Curtis Swift, Ph.D.

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September 12, 2012
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SWIFT: Lavender business is blooming

The worldwide production of essential oil from Lavandula angustifolia is about 220 tons (58,000 gallons) while the amount of essential oil from Lavandins (L. x intermedia) is over 290,000 gallons. Much of that oil is produced in France, Bulgaria, Romania, South Africa, and other countries and much of that is shipped to the United States at the rate of $1.6 million worth of lavender essential oil each month. So why is the U.S. behind the times in the production of lavender? We have proven we can successfully grow both L. angustifolia and the hybrid x intermedia in western Colorado. There are lavender farms in Hawaii, on the Olympic peninsula of Washington State, in Utah, in Connecticut, and even in Olathe, Paonia, the Redlands, Mack and Palisade.The question is not how to produce lavender but how to increase its sale value by creating value-added products such soaps, lotions, cosmetics, and other high-end products. Some local formulators of lotions and bath products are using oils and buds from overseas or from Oregon and Washington. Other local formulators are growing lavender specifically to supply the oil and buds for their own products. Some local growers are producing buds, oil, and hydrosol (floral water) for the wholesale market as they do not want to be involved in the creation of value-added items. Some of that oil and hydrosol is going to aromatherapists for use in their salons, a topic that will be covered in the upcoming lavender conference, but much of that is available for others interested in the creation of soaps, lotions and other products.Unless you have acres and acres of lavender to mechanically harvest and distill for its oil, you might want to consider purchasing oil, hydrosol, and buds from others and formulate the creams, lotions, bath products, and other high-end items that are in such high demand. You don't need to have a lavender farm to make money in this industry.As with any industry, knowing the market is critical. While you might be able to grow a particular crop, are you able to sell it? The answer for lavender is a resounding yes!The Lavender Association of Western Colorado is bombarded with requests to purchase buds, bouquets, hydrosol, essential oil, sachets, lotions, hand soaps, and other value-added products on a regular basis. The demand is there so selling the product is not an issue. Before you consider this career path, you should attend the upcoming Southwest Lavender Conference scheduled for Sept. 28-29 in Grand Junction. If you are already in this industry, the conference will provide you a great opportunity to learn from other professionals. This conference will provide you the training you need to use and develop lavender products.Dr. Raphael d'Angelo, M.D., founder and director of the Center for Holistic & Integrative Medicine in Aurora, and the ParaWellness Research Program will conduct a session on aromatherapy and how lavender oils can be used to beat infections and improve health. Janet Scavarda, D.C., from Grand Junction will cover how lavender is used to reduce stress. Cindy Jones, M.D., will cover the use of hydrosols in formulating cosmetics. Other speakers will cover use of lavender in cooking, growing lavender, marketing, and Colorado's new Cottage Food Industry legislation.The complete program is at the Lavender Association of Western Colorado website at If you are interested in learning more about making cosmetics and lotions for your own use or for the marketplace, I would encourage you to attend this conference.Dr. Curtis E. Swift is a retired horticulture agent with the CSU Extension. Reach him at or check out his blog at He owns Swift Horticultural Consulting and High Altitude Lavender.

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The Post Independent Updated Sep 12, 2012 06:52PM Published Sep 12, 2012 06:50PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.