It doesn’t seem nearly a year ago that we were harvesting the mint on our Hampshire farm and welcoming Anita Rani and the crew from BBC Countryfile to film for their Harvest 2016 special.
But #harvest17 is now in full swing with the unpredictable British weather keeping Farm Manager Ian on his toes!
Our organic lavender fields before harvest
Though the mint harvest is still a fortnight away, this week has been all about the lavender harvest. Many people think Summerdown Farm is just about Black Mitcham peppermint as this is the public face of the Summerdown brand. However behind the scenes the 2,500 acre farm in the foothills of the Hampshire Downs also provides the perfect conditions for growing cereal crops, oilseed rape, organic lavender and camomile. On a sunny Summer’s day, Summerdown Farm really is a magical place with all your senses on full alert.
Harvest has started
Our lavender is harvested and distilled in a very similar way to the mint, using the same equipment. As it’s cut, it goes into the cooker tub, (full name mobile distillation unit).
The tub is filled up with the lavender, and then this same machine is backed into the distillery and steam- distilled over several hours according to Ian’s rigorous process. An ‘elephant trunk’ on top lets the resulting steam out via a condenser into a pyramid-shape separator that divides it into water and oil.
Ian being filmed getting the steamer ready
The end result is our organic lavender oil, sold in our online shop and so good that the vast majority is sold to French perfume houses who love the superior quality of our product, and to another well-known luxury British body and bath retailer.
Our Organic lavender oil
As Farm Manager Ian always has the sustainability of the farm and the distillery front of mind, even the waste water from the distillation process goes off to a local commercial laundry business who uses it to make the pressed laundry smell gorgeous.
There’s no place we’d rather be on a Summer’s day, breathing in the heady aromas of Summerdown’s natural herbs.