Returning from our Albuquerque trip, I reached out to Paola from Sage Creations, as recommended by the farmers at Los Poblanos. It was my lucky day because the following weekend she was holding a commercial lavender growers class that I was able to attend. There were a small handful of other people there. A couple from Salida who moved here from Texas and were starting a farm in the mountains. Someone from the east coast who traveled drove with her Dad to make the class. And a few other couples just scratching the surface like I was.
Paola walked us through every component of growing lavender. From propagating, to field prep and irrigation, to harvesting and distilling. It was an informative class well worth the cost and I made great new connections in the industry. She shared that she always knew she wanted to work on organic farms and when she moved to Palisade she decided to go for it. She has a large glass greenhouse and two hoop houses. She has about five acres, some she owns and some she leases from neighbors. Two seasonal full time employees, and one she found through WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). She shared that she was nervous to open her farm to the public. There are things to consider when its open to the public, like more insurance and restrooms, and planting fields wider for U-Pick events. She said if I started a lavender farm on the front range I should be prepared for thousands of visitors.
I left her weekend course with a van full of 12 different cultivars of lavender and enjoyed a beautiful smelling drive back to Denver. With 50 plants to experiment with I decided to go public with my dream and plant a full garden of lavender at the Rose Roots Community Garden. My time at Sage Creations gave me confidence, tools, and hard to find cultivars (varieties) to begin a deeper exploration into lavender cultivation.
Grateful for those who are willing to share sage advice,