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How Our Lavender Farm Got Started

The 120-acre Red Hawk Ranch has been in the Schooley & Hunt families since 1988.  When we bought the property, two huge, beautiful   red-tailed hawks were circling over their nest in the canyon that is part of the property, and we named our ranch for them.  The native vegetation in this “high desert” part of northern Arizona consists of juniper trees and tumbleweeds -- with some very pretty grasses and wildflowers after the summer rains.  But we hoped for more types of flowers, and discovered that lavender, which we have always loved, grows well in our climate, our lime-rich soil, and our 6000-foot elevation.

 We planted our first lavender plants in 2009, and since then have added about 1500 plants per year.  We sold our miniature horses and converted our stable into a greenhouse, where we propagate new plants from cuttings, so we can continue our 1500-plants per year schedule indefinitely.

We are very “green”, since we are totally “off the grid“.  Our home runs on solar electricity and we even have solar electricity in the greenhouse.  We garden organically -- we have never used and will never use any pesticides or herbicides.  We do all the weeding required to keep our fields looking good by hand.  Lavender is a drought-tolerant plant, but needs occasional irrigation in the summer. Both of our well pumps are solar-powered.

The first spring, the winds were so strong that they literally blew some of our tiny plants out of the ground!  That inspired our new name, “Windy Hills Lavender Farm”.  One of the pictures here shows the rocks we place next to our “babies” when we plant them, just in case.  After they take root firmly, we can remove the rocks. Another picture shows the part of Black Canyon that runs through the farm. Others show some of the work involved in getting ready to plant -- beginning with removing some of the native junipers, digging up rocks from small to boulder size, laying underground watering pipes, and then fencing the fields to keep rabbits from munching the plants, and the cows belonging to our neighboring rancher from stepping on them. And then comes the harvest!  This is a fun project for the whole family -- grandma, mom & dad, and the college kids -- and the sweet fragrance of lavender keeps us all in a good mood while we cut and bundle lavender, just like they have done in France for hundreds of years. Small Beginnings.