Come late July, plumes of lavender-scented steam arise from Mountainside Lavender’s still and drift through the cool mountain air. As the season winds down, the farm’s experts set to work extracting the essential oils from their sole crop via the millennia-old practice of steam distillation. With more than 20 varieties of french and english lavender dotting the side of Chehalem Mountain, farmers have more than enough buds to choose from for their small batches of oil, which many prize for its calming effects. What doesn’t end up bottled may debut in the farm’s selection of handmade soaps, massage oils, and eye pillows.
In addition to incorporating the potent herb into therapeutic goods, farmers open their fields to visitors, who can gather bunches of english and french lavender varietals that burst into purple, pink, and white blooms. They also welcome guests to pause from plucking, smelling, or explaining the concept of private property to bumblebees so they can savor a picnic lunch while soaking up views of Mount Hood and Saint Helens.