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The color purple reigns during Lavender Tour
It’s a plant that has been celebrated throughout history for its soothing scent, beautiful blossoms, medicinal properties, culinary uses and even its potent power as an aphrodisiac.
And it’s in glorious bloom right now, all over Vashon.
Yes, it’s that time of year again, when Islanders can spend an entire weekend wading through waist-high fields of fragrant purple wands, framed by breathtaking views of Mount Rainier, Colvos Passage and Quartermaster Harbor, reveling in an official celebration of all things lavender.
“Here Comes the Sun,” the seventh annual Vashon Island Lavender Farm Tour, is set to take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 11 and 12.
The tour has become a much-anticipated fixture on the Island’s garden scene and increasingly, an up-and-coming alternative to the much larger Sequim Lavender and Farm Festival.
Karen Dale, an artist who has painted plein-air style at previous festivals, said that the tour’s size and scale is just right.
“It’s like the nicest populated garden party,” Dale said. “People are hanging around talking to each other. And when you look at the photos from all the farms, you see people bringing their little kids on a voyage of discovery. You see them dancing around with other kids.”
Known for its family-friendly ticket price ($5 for anyone 18 and older, and free for children and younger teens) and its high-value array of attractions, the tour includes stops at three organic lavender farms, live music, an art show, u-pick lavender, cooking demonstrations, gardening talks, children’s activities, crafts and painting workshops.
What’s more, the tour is also a way to support a good cause — each year, Vashon Island Lavender Growers’ Association (VILGA), which presents the tour, donates all of the money raised at the gate to an Island nonprofit organization.
This year’s beneficiary is the Solar Initiative, a project of Sustainable Vashon that recently installed solar panels on the Land Trust building.
Merrilee Runyan, a VILGA member and partner in Lavender Sisters, one of the farms on the tour, said the Solar Initiative was chosen because of VILGA’s own commitment to sustainability.
“In planning the tour, we are looking for every opportunity to ‘go green,’” she explained.
In keeping with that aim, tour organizers have recruited experts on renewable energy and solar power to speak and give mini-workshops at each tour stop.
Jason Williams, of Artisan Electric, will speak about “Making Solar Simple,” at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Lavender Sisters Farm.
Tom Watson, project manager for King County’s Recycling and Environmental Services and columnist for The Seattle Times, will speak on “Going Green at Home and in the Garden on a Budget” at 2 p.m. Saturday at Fox Farm.
Charlie Rogers, a home energy auditor who works on the Island with his company, Habitat, will be on hand at Lavender Hill Farm throughout the tour to provide information about energy audits.
Michele Thiebert will talk about “Cleaning Green” at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Fox Farm.
In another nod to environmental awareness, the tour has also doubled its number of shuttle buses. That means a reduced carbon footprint for the tour as well as added convenience for tour-goers, with four buses continually making stops at both of Vashon’s ferry docks, Vashon Theatre and all of the farms on the tour.
The shuttle buses are free to tour ticket holders.
No tour would be complete without food and drink, and the Lavender Tour will have plenty on hand. The Hardware Store Restaurant, Monkey Tree and Island caterer Emily Vogt will have a presence on the farms, offering everything from lavender lemonade to savory lunches for sale.
Runyan said she also encourages people to bring their own picnics.
The tour will also be full of cooking demonstrations and workshops, with bakers and chefs whipping up such exotic dishes as french crêpes and salmon with lavender.
She added that she hopes people will attend the “Lavender Under the Stars Wine Garden” event outside of Café Luna from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 11 (see story on next page).
The event will feature wine tastings as well as live music performances and is also a benefit for the Solar Initiative.
“We want people to know that they don’t have to leave the Island at 5 p.m.,” said Runyan.