By Wayne MacPhail
Ian Baird has no reason to be blue. The hot, dry summer which has plagued home gardeners and farmers across Ontario has been a welcome zephyr to the owner of the Terre Bleu Lavender Farm near Milton, Ontario.
That's because lavender, a Mediterranean plant, loves to be parched and baked. But, as Baird is quick to point out, Canadian winters are quick death to the sun lovers. He loses hundreds of plants a winter and most last three years at best. That's a far cry from the 30-year lifespan of lavender plants in France.
But Baird makes the best of every part of the 35,000 lavender plants he does harvest. From stalk, bud and flower he and his crew of twenty five produce culinary herbs, soaps, honey, essential oils, lavender BBQ smoke bundles and scented teddy bears. They can only keep up with local demand, selling out most weekends.
But this isn't just the largest lavender farm in Ontario, and Baird isn't an ordinary farmer. He's former Mountie, newspaper publisher, graphic designer and database expert. Baird has the soul of an artist. He designed the farm's inverted board and batten store and its logo. He's also installed OCAD student art pieces, offers yoga in the lavender fields, hosts jazz concerts and sells lavender-themed art. The farm is only open a few days a week. "We're a working farm," Baird says. "We're farmers first". Given the struggle to raise a French herb in a cold climate, that only makes scents.
Lavender in Motion
Following the Scent
TERRE BLEU LAVENDER FARM 2501, SIDEROAD 25, MILTON, ONTARIO