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All You Need to Know About Quality Lavender with Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm

All You Need to Know About Quality Lavender with Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm

Shopping in today’s world for products that are natural and true to its label can be a guessing game. A product might say lavender on the label, but this doesn’t mean it does in fact contain lavender.

For Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm they prioritize pure ingredients in their product line along with “preserving, restoring and improving our natural environment”.

Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm is a fourth-generation family farm that produces handcrafted products in small batches using botanical products they’ve grown and harvested themselves.

There is no guessing game involved when choosing products from Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm. You can be sure they have put their personal care and attention into every product from the ground up.

Here is Andrea from Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm to tell us more:

1. Lavender products are everywhere in large named brand stores. But what is the difference between these generic brands of lavender products and a brand like Okanagan Lavender

I love this question! There is a huge answer to this, but I will try to stick to the pertinent information!

As a small producer, we know our soils and eco-systems within our farm intimately and we can be very purposeful and specific in how we cultivate our herbs. Lavender is grown on a global scale, and because of this, quality can be very inconsistent. It is not uncommon for lavender essential oil to be adulterated (for a number of reasons) – to create a more consistent aroma from harvest to harvest, to achieve a higher ‘ester’ content and therefore be paid a higher price (this can be done by increasing the linalool and linalyl acetate with synthetic compounds).

We should all remember to read labels too – does your lavender product name a species of lavender essential oil or does it use the word ‘fragrance’?

A fragrance is a synthetic blend that can accurately achieve the aroma of lavender, but can never replicate the nuances or healing properties of a pure essential oil. By the nature of them being created in a lab, they are also very inexpensive to produce, so cost can often be an indicator of quality.

A good comparison would be eggs – when you compare an egg from a commercial facility versus your neighbour’s hens – it is easy to see (bright orange vs pale yellow yolks) and taste the difference. Not so different here – lavender essential oil from a global company can be fairly ‘generic’ – blended to suit the expectations of the masses, whereas a small, reputable producer knows their plants and their traits intimately.

There are many lavender cultivars. We imported our collection of 60 from a scientific collection in the UK in the early 2000’s. This allowed us to propagate our plants from correctly labelled stock, but more importantly, it allowed us to learn about the nuances of the different lavenders, when they bloom, whether they produce a quality essential oil or are they better used in a sachet?

For example in the same species we have 3 very different lavenders that we distill for essential oil – ‘Maillette’ has citrus notes, ‘Royal Velvet’ has mango notes, and ‘English’ has exquisite floral notes. We use each of these oils in different products, based on how they interact with other essential oils. That is a luxury that a small producer can attend to, but on a large scale, it would not be practical.

2. Why is small batch an important factor in your products?

For us, small batch means we are blending 24-60 units in a batch. Most of our ingredients are grown at the farm and we need to pay attention to how fast something is selling to see if we need to plant more of a particular herb to ensure we don’t run out – sometimes we do.

We do not use any additives or preservatives in our products and select our carrier oils and other ingredients carefully to ensure they are produced with the same care and attention we give to the ingredients we grow right at our farm in the Okanagan.

These oils and butters have a ‘shelf life’ – our products which incorporate these oils have a 12-month shelf life. By only blending small batches, we can ensure that our customer is getting a ‘fresh’ product when they order from us.

Before we order any carrier oils, we check the Certificate of Analysis to ensure we are not receiving something with a short or expired shelf life. I always laugh about this story…one day at Costco, my son brought a package of soap to the cart with 24 bars in it. He said ‘I know it’s a lot of soap, but it never goes bad.’ I said ‘That’s what you should be concerned about. Why does it never go bad? Because it should!’.

3. Why is lavender an important herb to include in the daily routine of Mamas?

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Ancient cultures used lavender to improve sleep, calm nerves, ease headaches, and as a disinfectant. I love that today, current studies uphold these traditional uses for lavender.

A drop of lavender essential oil rubbed into your temple at bedtime may be just the thing you need to help you achieve a good night’s rest or ease a nagging headache. Rub a drop onto an insect bite to ease swelling. Add a 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil and 1 cup of Epsom salt to your bath and relax! Tuck a lavender sachet under your pillow when you make your bed and remove it before sleeping for a subtle aroma.  Pinch a few buds off your lavender plant (species: Lavandula angustifolia is the one for culinary uses) and make a fresh herbal infusion with lemon juice and a drizzle of honey – wonderful for easing frazzled nerves.

4. What are must-have products for Mamas, especially for Mother’s Day?

I remember the busy days when I had 3 children in 4 years, and what I recall is that things had to be simple or they sat on a shelf. There are a few things we produce that I think are simple and effective for Mamas. 

Calendula Body Butter – this is so gentle for sensitive skin, the aroma is delightful I love to rub it into my hands and then massage the bottom of my grandson’s feet before he goes to bed. It is a wonderful ritual to create – good for a mama and good for a wee one.

Lavender Hand & Body Salve – only 2 ingredients here, our lavender essential oil and Fair Trade, organic unrefined Shea Nut Butter – this is a fabulous belly rub, on your feet, chapped elbows, rough hands.

Relief Roll-On – this has our lovely floral ‘English’ lavender oil in a roll-on applicator with a stainless steel ball. I love this for ease of application, it is already safely diluted and you can rub it onto your temples or at the base of your neck to ease a headache or help you relax.

Lavender Dryer Bags – these are the best item to keep in your laundry room and toss into the dryer with your bed sheets – the aroma is subtle and I love the scent when you climb into bed….I also love the aroma in my laundry room when I am using them!

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and products from Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm are a definite must-have for the season! To shop use discount code M.M.20 for 20% off at www.okanaganlavender.com

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