Lavender may be an ancient herb used by Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures, but it is a new crop in Western Colorado.
In the spring of 2009, a small group of lavender enthusiasts explored growing the fragrant herb on the Western Slope—primarily in the Grand and North Fork Valleys. They formed a nonprofit, the Lavender Association of Western Colorado, and began their cultivation journey with support from the Colorado State University Extension-Tri River Area (Counties: Delta, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray).
July 10-12, 2015 is the 5th Annual Lavender Festival, a celebration of the lovely buds that now thrive under in the semi-arid micro-climates of Western Colorado. The festival activities include: a chauffeured farm tour; a Feast in the Field dining experience; a park packed with demonstrations, vendors, and workshops; and a mapped out self-guided tour.
Want to learn more? Here are a few Lavender FAQs:
In ancient times lavender was used for mummification and perfume by the Egyptian’s, Phoenicians, and peoples of Arabia. During the Middle ages it was considered an herb of love and was used as an aphrodisiac.
In 1652, Culpeper recommended that “two spoonfuls of the distilled water of the flowers taken helpeth them that have lost their voice; as also the tremblings and passions of the heart, and faintings and swounings [sic].” England’s Queen Elizabeth I drank lavender tea to help ease her migraines, and during WWI, nurses bathed soldiers’ wounds with lavender washes.
Other historical uses include embalming corpses, curing animals of lice, taming lions and tigers, repelling mosquitoes, snuff flavoring, and as an ingredient in special lacquers and varnishes.
- Lavender is a member of the mint family.
- English Lavender, Lavendula angustifolia, is the most widely cultivated species (synonyms – L. vera, L. latifola, L. officinalis, L. spica, L. delphinensis).
- Lavender oil contains up to 40% linalyl acetate and 30% linalol. Linalol is a terpene alcohol that is non-toxic to humans, yet naturally antimicrobial.
- The potency of the lavender flowers increases with drying.
- bon appétit has a great guideline for cooking with lavender.
- Try lavender Sugar and Salt.
- Boulder Locavore features lavender infused recipes from lemonade to lamb, potatoes to peaches.
The Grand River Diversion Dam—the irrigation icon of the Grand Valley on the Colorado River—turns 100 years old this June. To celebrate, the Palisade Historical Society is throwing one big, okay, dam big birthday party.
- Took roughly (figurative and literal) 20 years from start to finish.
- Provides H2O for five irrigation canals
- Innovative “roller” design at the time (1897)
- Affectionately called “Roller Dam” by locals.
The Palisade Historical Society (a.k.a. Priscilla Bowman Walker) is the historical source and tells the dam story best at the event. Activities include How the West Was Watered video by Larry Seibert (InFilms & Design, Inc.) and his photographer and editor, Scot Stewart. There will be speakers, an information booth (look for me and say hello!), historical photos, and more to add to the hydro-historic narrative. To wet your palette check out Melody Gonzalez’s news report, “Grand Valley Diversion Dam Celebrates 100 Years” on Westernslopenow.com with Fox 4 News television shout-out.
- When: Saturday, June 27, 2015
- Where: Veteran’s Memorial Community Center (8th & Main)
- More when: 9-5 “
- What else: “Dam Art Show,” Slice ‘O’ Life Bakery “Dam” birthday cake by Dorothy Carver Hines; Bookcliff Harmony Barbershop Chorus
Visit the Palisade Historical Society’s Dam birthday party site for additional programing details and activities.
Palisade orchards might be six months from dripping with their famous ripe peaches, but that doesn’t mean it’s not busy around there. If you look down the rows, through the barren branches and across the fields you’ll see why. It’s pruning season.
Workers are giving fruit trees their seasonal trim. (A little off the top, please?) The sun is out again after a snow—a gift during a much too warm winter with little moisture. Workers set up the ladders or ride on flatbeds through the orchards, long scissor-like pruning tools in hand. They pile up the downed limbs and twigs, removing them from the rows lest insects find a cozy home for multiplication … and I don’t mean 2 x 2 = 4. Think 2 x 2 = zillions of pests.
Labor needs aren’t just in the summer and harvest season. It’s year round. Child and Migrant Services (CMS) in Palisade is a lifeline. They are a network for farmers to connect with those looking for work. Plus, migrant workers find community at CMS. Director Karalyn Dorn says orchard work takes a lot of knowledge, skill, dedication. As a result, farmers like to hire the same guys (or gals) each year. “It’s a win, win,” says Dorn.
Even with the pruning activity in February, the Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway is pretty quiet. Sure, only a few country stores are open. (If you’re low on lavender and olive oil stop into Sprigs & Sprouts on Hwy 6.) Roadside fruit stands say “Thank you” and “Closed.” The good news for winter agritourists, though, is many of the gates to wine tasting rooms are open. (Thank you, Maison le Belle Vie!)