Lavender farmers near Lawrence enjoy a bumper crop

CIty dwellers turned farmers reap rewards of work

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Kan. - It's a field of purple and pink in a state known for fields of golden wheat.  But when Jack and Kathy Wilson bought their farm near Lawrence soil scientists from Kansas State University told them their land would be ideal for growing either grapes or lavender.  The couple chose lavender, and now they are reaping the rewards.

This year at harvest time their crop is in the best shape it has ever been in with plants numbering over six thousand.  The Wilson's home-based company, Washington Creek Lavender, takes the lavender from the farm and turns it into products for everyday use.  Some of them are for adding fresh scents clothes and linens while others are for food and beverages.  Some believe lavender has medicinal properties.

The Wilson's gave up city life in Chicago and settled on their farm eight years ago.  Neither of them had any experience farming. "I had never run a tractor," said Jack Wilson, "I had no clue.  Now every day it's running the tractor, it's cutting, it's picking."  He said he never wants to go back to the urban lifestyle.

The successful lavender farm is getting noticed.  The state of Kansas and Douglas County recently designated it an agricultural tourist attraction.  The Wilson's plan to make improvements to their property to accommodate visitors. 

"It's going to be great fun to have people come out and see the lavender because of the positive response we get to the lavender," Jack Wilson said.

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