LANSING, Mich. — If you drive down Clark Street in Lansing, you just might miss it, but the sweet scent wafting from the Sixteen Sprigs lavender farm will definitely grab your attention.
“This is a project of passion,” said Wynne Wright, the owner & chief farmer of Sixteen Sprigs. When she’s not working in her lavender garden, she’s a professor in the College of Agriculture at Michigan State University.
“I ran away from the farm to go to college when I was much younger, but I’ve always wanted to get my feet back into farming on a small scale,” she said.
Wright studies the livelihood of rural women who farm. A decade ago, she traveled to France where she met a woman who grew lavender and helped Wright find her green thumb.
What started as a small backyard project has now blossomed into a 1/3 acre garden with 350 lavender plants.
The Ingham County Land Bank helped Wright secure the property, which has been environmentally verified by the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program.
Wright says watching visitors react to the lavender garden is one of the most rewarding parts of her job.
“They trudge up the hill in awe really when it’s at peak season, so people are very impressed and of course they can’t wait to get their hands in there.”
Lisa Van Curen, a farmhand at Sixteen Sprigs, says the rows of lavender have a special way of pulling people in.
"It’s almost magical even because people will just drive by and they’ll see it and they just want to be among it," said Van Curen. "If someone happens to be here, they’re really eager to strike up a conversation to say what they know about lavender, what they don’t know about lavender, and what they want to know about lavender.”
From essential oils to soaps and lotions, Wright says lavender is a versatile herb that can be used to make all kinds of products that she sells at the farm and at local markets.
When the pandemic hit last spring, Wright says she retreated to her lavender garden for an escape — and she wasn’t the only one.
“I had a lot of people come to the garden last year more so because I think they were looking for that same place, so I was happy to share it with them.”
For Wright, the lavender farm is more than a hobby.
“One of the things that I’m constantly trying to think about how to do is blend my world as an academic and farmer,” said Wright. “I think about teaching other people how to farm in new, creative, and more sustainable ways and sometimes that means farming different crops like lavender.”
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