Cotton, oil, and cattle may have defined its past, but these days, Texas is coming up lavender. With its rich soil and temperate climate, the state has become home to numerous herb farms. Several facilities are using the purple crop in beauty and home products, or are providing the herb to area chefs for use in lavender-infused culinary dishes. Visitors can sample some of these tasty treats at one of the many lavender festivals that take place between May and October; for a list, visit www.gotexan.com.
During a recent visit to the area, we became enamored of the lavender products from two companies in particular: Becker Vineyards, one of Texas’ top wine makers and a pioneer in the state’s lavender enterprise; and Lavande, a relatively new launch from a farm just outside of Houston. Over 12 years ago, Becker owners Richard and Bunny Becker were inspired by a trip to Provence, France, to plant their own lavender field. Today, their three-acre plot boasts about 7,000 plants in four different varieties. Chris Perrenoud, the vineyard’s Lavender Manager, has helped incorporate the blooms into a solid range of products, including purple sprig-topped soaps, exfoliating oatmeal soaps, handmade 100 percent lavender floret sachets, and delicately scented linen and room sprays. Lavender essential oil is key to the nourishing shea butter Therapy Cream, the Lip Balm (packed with sweet almond, coconut and avocado oils), and the Comfrey Salve, which tackles cuts and burns with comfrey leaf, vitamin E and shealoe. We love the Lotion Stick for traveling. www.beckervineyards.com
For the makers of Lavande, lavender has become something of a passion. A professional photographer and ad industry vet, Houstonian Craig Stewart and his wife purchased a farm an hour outside of town about 10 years ago where they primarily grew hay. Also inspired by their travels to Provence and Tuscany, the Stewarts tried their hands at lavender back in 2007. Now, the 1.25-acre plot houses 3,800 blooming plants. The couple launched the Lavande line in 2009. Along with culinary items like lavender spice rubs, lavender sugar, and lavender-apricot tea, the offerings include soy-based candles (in glass jars or travel tins), room diffuser sticks, dryer sachets, and gorgeous violet-colored, hand-cut soaps sprinkled with lavender buds. The lavender-peppermint-eucalyptus Massage Oil is a favorite (it can also be added to the bath), as is the all-natural Flea Buster for pets. www.lavandetexas.com