Driving through Baraboo in Sauk County, you might feel as though you’ve been transported to the lush French countryside. Fields of stunning purple lavender have popped up over the past several years as multiple lavender farms are offering a new agritourism experience.
New Life Lavender & Cherry Farm
Laura and Aron McReynolds knew they needed a change when they bought the farmland that would eventually become New Life Lavender & Cherry Farm in 2015.
“We had just moved from Kansas and had sold our business there. We were kind of waiting for what was next and knew we needed a change,” Laura says.
The couple wanted to do something outside with their kids, and the 40-acre abandoned family farm seemed like just the opportunity for a new idea.
“I came across a picture of a lavender field and it was just so beautiful,” Laura says. “I was really inspired by it. It was a rough time in our family’s life, and we needed something to bring us together. The farm has been such a healing process.”
The more they researched lavender, the more the couple learned about the crop’s many healing properties, which seemed to be a good fit for their life.
Along with lavender, part of the farm’s 40 acres is used to grow cherries, which the McReynolds thought paired perfectly with the purple plant.
“That’s kind of our brand, focusing on lavender and cherries together,” Aron says. “We have a signature lavender cherry pie that’s a very unique recipe. We spent six months working on it and we make it every day at the farm.”
He adds that they’re planning to expand the culinary offerings so visitors can learn that lavender is for more than just lotion.
Now the farm is open to the public, and Laura says visitors can walk in to visit or schedule a farm tour to learn more about the different varieties of lavender and their uses. The couple’s kids each have their own parts of the farm, which also highlights the tour.
“My middle son loves animals and he started researching sheep, so now we have sheep,” Laura says. “My oldest son has bees, and we’re now planting over 8 acres of wildflowers. And my daughter has fish on the farm. For every farm tour, the kids talk to the group and explain their part.”
Visitors can also stop by the farm store, which is full of lavender and cherry products. “Customers can shop and purchase culinary treats made in our on-site commercial kitchen,” Aron says.
Devil’s Lake Lavender
Similarly, at Devil’s Lake Lavender in Baraboo, Rebecca Powell Hill uses the freshly grown lavender in many unique dishes in the farm’s bistro.
“We make everything from ice cream and lavender cookies to bouillabaisse and lavender lemon chicken,” Powell Hill says. “We bought the bistro specifically to develop lavender food and beverage products, and this year we’re launching a new line of spice mixes.”
Powell Hill grew up in Baraboo and returned after traveling the world. “This area is one of the most magnificent and beautiful environments I’ve ever seen,” she says. She founded the farm in 2017 as a legacy project for her children.
The main farm at Devil’s Lake consists of 17 acres, with about 12,000 lavender plants on four of those acres. Peak bloom occurs between the last week in June until the beginning of August. The farm features several other components as well, including the aforementioned bistro, a spa and even a “speakeasy” in downtown Baraboo.
“We have over 30 different types of lavender in test plots,” Powell Hill says. “We also have some goats, close to 1 million bees on the property, and this year we are starting an aquaponic garden.”
It’s safe to say there’s no shortage of learning at Devil’s Lake Lavender.
Rowley Creek Lavender Farm
Also in Baraboo, Kehaulani Jones of Rowley Creek Lavender Farm says when she looks back at the beginning days of the farm in 2011, she wonders what she was thinking, uprooting her family from the ease of St. Louis. But after a few years, her decision to grow lavender in Wisconsin turned out to be one of the best she’s ever made.
“Being South Pacific Islanders, my family was drawn to flowers. Why lavender? It offered the most potential as a crop and can be used as fresh or dried flowers and in culinary, medicinal and skincare preparations, just to name a few,” she says.
Jones has a background as a natural skincare designer, so the primary use of the farm’s lavender is cosmetic.
“However, we also create and sell culinary items and home décor made with our lavender,” she says.
Guests who visit Rowley Creek have the opportunity to escape and enjoy the serenity of lavender.
“The Rowley Creek Farm experience is meant to nurture the soul,” Jones says. “In addition to providing a relaxing place to meditate, we offer farm tours, group presentations on lavender, a visit with our goats and a shopping experience with amazing ‘aloha- made’ products.”
A Soothing Celebration
All three farms agree that lavender’s versatility makes it a unique and interesting crop. To celebrate, Sauk County now holds a Lavender Festival in July, highlighting each farm and hosting various classes and events throughout the day.
See more: Love lavender? Check out our recipe for Lavender Scones.