Move over melons. Lavender may one day be the king crop of Luling.
Just north of I-10, across the parking lot of Love's and conveniently near a sign advertising a nonexistent diner is Luling Lavender Fields, a new shop curated by owners Erin and Richard Leavitt. Their business is in growing of the little purple buds that they hope one day will reign over the area as a destination for traveling lavender lovers everywhere.
“We've got two acres of lavender,” says Erin Leavitt. “We planted about 2,000 [plants] and we still have 1,600, which is pretty good after a year-and-a-half.”
The operation took root in March 2017 on 12 acres of the family farm. Leavitt and her husband were looking for a new cash crop to help keep the ranch going, and they settled on lavender after researching all the products that they could make with the plant. They fashioned a showroom out of repurposed shipping containers which has the feel of an old dance hall while smelling like something out of Bed, Bath and Beyond.
The space has nice views with a centuries-old oak right out front where visitors can sit and admire the rows of planted lavender.
“Eventually we will have more trails out the back. And we are pet friendly, so people traveling can stop and walk their dogs or kids,” Leavitt said, just as soon as she finds a way to lure travelers off of the busy interstate. She hopes that maybe the addition of food trucks one day might help make the lavender fields a destination in agri-tourism.
Lavender comes in many varieties, and five are grown at Luling Lavender Fields. Texas already has a few spots where the plants have seemed to flourish, like certain areas of the Hill Country around Blanco. The soil here is different though, and Leavitt is experimenting with various strains of the plant to find one that is best suited for the Caldwell and Gonzales county area.
The store is awash in sensual scents and the purple hues can be found everywhere, down to the nails on Leavitt's hands. There you will find various flavors of handmade soaps, oils, lavender for cooking, stuffed animals filled with lavender, sachets, baskets, raw lavender, and of course baskets and things to put your new bunch of lavender in.
“We sold 250 bars of soap in the first five days we were open, and we are just now getting it restocked,” she said.
Most lavender farms are seasonal, but she plans to keep her store open year-round selling not only her homegrown stock but those from others as well. Some of her culinary lavender comes from Washington.
There's even lavender chocolate bars and lavender cookies and ice cream.
“Everybody that has walked through the door has been happy to see it here,” she said.
With skill and luck, Luling might be home to the next lavender epicenter. All it would take is the right plant to take off and lavender might be the agricultural explosion the area has been waiting for. Leavitt said she would happily work to promote that, and more growers would definitely be good for business. Plus, it would give the town something else to tout.
“I would like to see the Watermelon Thump and the Lavender Festival,” she said. “Why not?”
Luling Lavender Fields can be found at 5 Arrow Ln., Luling, Texas 78648. Call them at 512-757-6055 or follow them on your favorite social media sites.