This morning I’m off to the Aliʻi Kula Lavendar farm, where I will be in heaven. The farm is further “up country” from the Ulupalakua Ranch. At a 4,000 foot elevation, it will literally take me a moment or two to catch my breath before I’m surrounded by the 55,000 lavender plants and all that grows with them.
Aliʻi, owner of the farm, was drawn to agriculture because “I always liked working with the land.” His gardens started as a resort that he ran for the first two years before his heart called him back to the land. His early explorations–combined with his friends bringing little cuttings–led him to starting his current venture. The first bed of lavender plants set his path to the ever-expanding farm.
I am again struck by the care that the people of the farm give to the land, and how collaborative the farm is with many small partners. The farm grows the many species of lavender for the partner companies that produce the goods sold in the store. Aliʻi counts 25 companies as his collaborative partners for their combined success.
Some of the lavender is planted and mixed in with Protea. On our tour, Aliʻi cut a branch sweet Lavendula heterophylla, then French Lavandula Dentata (has serrated leaves, used in vodka!) for us to smell. The lush gardens are not irrigated–they’re surviving on their own. The number of plants are increased by cuttings. Aliʻi admits that once lavender came into his life, he realized he had a mediterranean-like climate and could grow other crops including olives, which have already produced fruit in their second year. This year he plans to pres the olives for oil. This farm is a working culinary botanical garden. The feel and smell of the path is remarkable, “like a different world,” says Allan Borgen.
During the summer months, many come to the gardens for weddings. I can see why, with the fragrant and peaceful landscape. I drove away with a handful of cuttings and a car that quickly smelled like heaven.