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Natural State Lavender in Scott

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If hindsight is 20/20, Nicole Locke might not do anything different about the year 2020. Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, she lost her stable job. With extra time to look for a new one, she was distracted by researching her dreams on the internet.

The Scott, Arkansas resident paused and asked herself, “What do I want to do that really makes me happy?” One of her favorite hobbies is caring for her plants. There is something healing about caring for something else, especially when she needed to also care for herself, and her heart.

A dream takes root in her heart

Locke has always wanted some land: a place to spread out, garden and set up a homestead. One day, while looking for jobs, she got distracted by a new piece of land available in Scott and switched her search to real estate properties. She drove to visit the property, and a gut feeling just told her this would be the place.

When she and her husband, Chris, first bought the property, it was covered with soybeans, but Locke knew that was not her goal. Instead, it was time to chase her dreams with a beautiful piece of property on 10 acres on the back of Old River Lake.

“My husband asked me what I was going to do with the land. I told him lavender was my dream, but I wasn’t even sure if we could grow lavender in Arkansas or on that piece of land.”

Locke used a couple of resources to help her investigate plant options and learn about establishing a lavender farm: A lavender consultant from Portland, Oregon, and the local the University of Arkansas Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension office line.

The dream gets planted in the ground

Locke, who has always had a green thumb, and whose mother was a gardener, never expected to be a full-blown farmer. The Arkansas Extension Office provided significant support. Because they usually deal with cotton and soybean farmers, they were surprised to hear from a lavender farmer. They quickly became part of the support team for Locke as she worked on determining the mixture needed to neutralize the soil on the farm and conducted her weekly pH testing.

The extension office helped her determine where she needed to plant on the land, what to add to the soil to neutralize the balance, and how to build up the rows for irrigation. Locke also joined the National Lavender Growers Association, a community of like-minded individuals who are mutually supportive and passionate about the same crops and helping each other.

A new brand is born

Natural State Lavender Company planted its first 30 plants in 2020, and they did well under the recommendations offered. Locke planted 600 more for her first season. But she was still scared to tell people what she was doing. Her consultant challenged her to tell people she was growing lavender and push beyond the fear of failure. Instead of “what if it fails,” it was time to start thinking, “what if it happens!”

Lavender is not considered “mature” until its third growing season. So those baby plants are mature this summer and fall with 1,000 more planted around them. Locke’s ultimate goal is to reach 3,000 plants by adding new crops each spring. Then she wants to expand their line of products and interactions with the plants like a U-pick experience.

Natural State Lavender Company is committed to not using harsh chemicals as they cultivate two varieties on the farm:

  • Lavandula x intermedia – a French hybrid used for bath and body products, sachets, fresh and dried bundles and perfumes and
  • Lavandula Angustifolia – true English Lavender, a culinary plant that can be used and eaten straight from the field.

Lavender has taken its place in pop culture, and personal use popularity; people love lavender! In 2020, lavender was the herb of the year; one more notion that Nicole and Chris Locke made the right decision at the right time.

Easy ways to use lavender in your everyday life

  • Lavender mix for lemonade or green tea
  • Lavender syrup in coffee
  • Lavender sugar on beignets, scones or cookies
  • Lavender bath soak or salts
  • Lavender hot chocolate
  • Lavender essential oils for calming children or in diffusers at work or while sleeping
  • Lavender sachet at work or in car

How can you interact with Natural State Lavender Co?

All pictures in this article are used with permission from Natural State Lavender Co.

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Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in South Arkansas with her husband and sweet Boxer, Bailey and one-year-old son! Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now she is using all of those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom!

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One response to “Natural State Lavender in Scott”

  1. Rhea Williams says:

    Very interesting story. I learned something, that you can eat lavender straight from the field.

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