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edible Monterey Bay Summer 2016

ON THE FARM DEERHAVEN LAVENDER FARM A family finds harmony with the land through lavender BY PATRICE VECCHIONE PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHELLE MAGDALENA When she smelled fire one hot June day eight years ago, lavender grower Mary Nulph Jessen became suspicious and went outside. It was clearly not a chimney fire she was getting a whiff of—the season was too warm for that. e wind was coming from the northeast, not as it usually does, off the ocean a few miles to the west. Mary looked up at the sky, saw a big plume of smoke and knew it meant trouble. She grabbed her three dogs and two cats and got them safely in her car. By the time she drove out her driveway less than an hour later, flames had reached her property and were nearly licking the bottom of her car. Quickly, helicopters had begun dropping fire retardant. Mary and her husband, David, live in a 10-acre meadow, a wide bowl of earth that’s surrounded by the forested Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve. A farm for more than 100 acquired the surrounding area for preservation. e Jessens had already rented it for more than 10 years and Mary had grown tired of watching the deer eat pretty much everything but the lavender, including her beloved roses. “Lavender is the only thing they wouldn’t eat,” Mary says, and she figured she could work with that. By 2004, she and David recognized a business opportunity that would fit their family’s lifestyle. Mary and David had both been raised in Bonny Doon and loved the rural life. “I grew up learning from the area’s Italian wine growers what we now call organic, biodynamic growing practices, following nature’s rhythm, in tune with the seasons,” David says. “ose growers did everything by hand, as we do.” www.ediblemontereybay.com 51 years, it’s been a pear and a plum orchard as well as a Prohibition-era vineyard. Part of this quiet green sanctuary was once almost lost to a golf course as well as to fire, and it is only a couple of miles away from Highway 1. But it feels miles and miles away from the pace of city life. It’s here that Mary grows lavender. Lots of lavender. e property is filled with big fields of the clustering pale green bushes with uplifted stalks and purple heads. Brush against the lavender as you walk by or bend down to rub it between your fingers, and the sweet, pungent scent fills the air and stays with you for a long time. Mary and David started their lavender growing in the early 1990s just for pleasure, with about 30 ornamental lavender plants. ey’d just recently bought the property from e Nature Conservancy after the nonprofit


edible Monterey Bay Summer 2016
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