There are many things I love about living where I live. I love that there are 4 distinct seasons here, and that the more extreme seasons are not anywhere as nasty as they could be (I still sleep under a down comforter in July!). I love just how verdant it gets in the summer. I love that funky and fundamental contingents bump up against each other all the time. And, perhaps most of all, I love how agriculturally rich the area is, and truly, always has been. Things grow here. I mean, REALLY grow here. Happily. Sometimes, depending on where you are, you have to coax and coddle and placate the soil with mushroom compost or lime or chicken poop to even out the clay if you're trying to grow veggies or other edibles. But take a walk in any nearby forest, of which there are many, and you will find green splendor gone wild. It's almost profane, actually, just how scandalously the green parades itself around. It calls to mind stirrings under the soil, just out of sight, and abundance and bounty and lushness and seduction. This is one of the oldest and most bio-diverse regions on the planet and it shows. Species of plants and animals are found here that are found no where else. Perhaps owing to this, the area feels old, and wise, and seasoned. It feels full of secrets and treasures, available only to the patient and those willing to persevere.
Patience and perseverance have definitely paid off for one area farm. Mountain Farm, a 24-acre lavender, blueberry and goat farm in Burnsville, NC, in the Southern Appalachians, held its annual Lavender Festival this past weekend. Located about 1 hour north of Asheville, N.C., the farm is situated on a scenic hilltop, surrounded by lush mountains. Part open setting, part rhododendron-shrouded forest, the farm opens its barn doors to the public each July and invites the world in for a feast of the senses. Activities for adults as well as children were offered, ranging for lavender wand-making demonstrations to face-painting. A farm store sold hand-crafted, farm-produced lavender and goat body care products, including such indulgent delights as a lavender & orange sugar facescrub, as well as culinary items including lavender vinegar (plain, with blueberries, or with rosemary), lavender salt for fish and meat rubs and lavender blended teas, a standout being a lavender chai. My friends and I spread our picnic blanket and picniced under a willow tree with full view of the farm's pond before delighting ourselves with lavender lemonade and lavender cupcakes made by an Asheville-based baker. So blissed out by the fragrant herb were we (I accidentally doused myself with lavender essential oil a bit too heavily and rubbed my friends arms and necks to even out the headiness) that not even a mountain rainstorm could quench our joy. As I said at the onset, there are many reasons why I love living here. Goats and lavender just make it even better.