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Daily Inspiration: Meet Elaine Stackhouse

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elaine Stackhouse. 

Hi Elaine, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Lavender Rose Farms is a small lavender field, herb garden, and wildflower garden in Southeast, Mi. We handcraft artisan products from our organic lavender, botanicals, and wildcrafted items. We air dry our flowers for dried flower bouquets suitable for home décor and weddings. We have a full line of lavender spa products, bouquets/boutonnieres, and other gifts. 

We got started as a backyard urban farm at our previous home in 2014. In 2017, we bought our current property which has 2.5 acres. We are a family-based enterprise. I work full time and my husband and two adult sons and granddaughter assist me. They help occasionally with making products, but more often working in the fields at harvest, doing gardening, wedding, planting, and courier for package delivery to post office. 

We have hand-planted over 300 lavender plants. We currently grow English lavender and Intermediate lavender. Lavender varieties include Grosso, Hidcote, Munstead, Melissa Lilac, Folgate, and Royal Velvet. 

Our pollinator garden is filled with native wildflower nectar plants and milkweed. Our field is nationally registered as a Monarch Waystation with Monarch Watch. Bird, bees, and butterflies come to our flower fields and deer and rabbit often bed down in the wildflower field. 

There are wild grapes growing on the banks of the River Raisin, which is at the back of our property. Wild grapes can be used in jellies, jams, and preserves. Because our proximity to the to the river we get a variety of wildlife. Ducks and geese are very common in our back fields by the river. We also have bald eagles on our property. They nest on Lake Erie just a couple of miles away and fly upriver to fish and hunt in the fields. 

Herb & Vegetables: We currently have expanded raised beds area and now are growing vegetables and berries. We have a raised herb garden as well. I use an assortment of herbs in our bath and body products. 

Everything we plant is used for our personal use or use in our artisan products. Nothing goes to waste! 

Our farm is a non-traditional farm. We are not currently open to the public. I am happy to arrange pick up of products for local residents. Otherwise, we mostly sell online from our website and Etsy storefront. Occasionally, we have special events or do tours by appointment. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
There have been bumps along the way, but overall, it’s been an enjoyable experience. Early on, it was somewhat difficult to find information how to start a lavender farm. In 2014, lavender farming in Michigan was not quite as popular as it is today. It did take a lot of research on my part and self-teaching. 

Our first hurdle was we just had a suburban backyard to work with and not real farmland. In 2017, we solved that problem by purchasing our current home which sits on 2.5 acres. While we certainly now had the space to plant, we also were in a semi-rural zoned residential area. We curtailed the idea of opening the farm to the public for regular business hours. We decided to use our land to grow everything we needed (as much as possible) for our business but to sell online. We also have sold in retail outlets and markets. As I mentioned previously, we occasionally do tours and allow pick up of order for local residents. This business model has worked great for us as a small family farm/garden. 

Our whole family joined together to plant our lavender field and later our wildflower meadow. The weeding is an ongoing struggle! We have rich farmland soil and everything grows very well, including weeds. We like to keep our fields 100% organic. Lavender does well in poor sandy soil, which we do not have. However, our lavender seems to thrive here. We did have some plant losses a few years ago when the area was hit by a polar vortex followed by an especially wet spring. Lavender does not like wet feet (overwatering). So, being in Michigan with our cold winters and good amount of rainfall can present a challenge. Weather is always a struggle in any kind of farming. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I specialize in floral design. When I started a lavender farm, my intention was to grow lavender for buds, dried bundles, sachets, and lavender skincare products as most lavender farm do. I certainly do offer these items, but along the way, I sort of fell into floral design. 

I saw some dried flower bouquets online that incorporated lavender and other dried flowers. I thought maybe I should try my hand at those! I started fairly basic, but soon added more flowers and started creating my own designs. I realized I had a knack for design. I got such great feedback that I put the designs on our Etsy shop. The response was phenomenal and I started booking wedding orders. At one time, I had a large array of bouquet designs. I have scaled back a bit to my favorite and best-selling bouquets. Occasionally, I will introduce a new design or add wreaths and swags, and tabletop arrangements. 

I have a portfolio on my website filled with photos that our brides or their photographers have sent in and given us permission to post and to use on our Etsy Shop. It’s so satisfying for me to see these wonderful events. I also have done floral designs, gift baskets, and favors for showers, corporate events, memorials, and for casinos as well as the weddings. 

I’ve gotten into candle-making and making birdseed ornaments and favors. Our birdseed treats and birdseed wreaths are especially popular at Christmas. I make candles with botanical sprinkles and sell them alone or included in gift baskets. 

What sets Lavender Rose Farms apart from other lavender farms is our variety of products and specialty in floral design. Also, the fact we do not focus on agritourism, but rather online sales throughout the United States. 

The quality of our products also sets us apart. When we provide lavender or botanical sachets, for example, we fill them very full with high-quality product. Many sachets from other suppliers are often only filled partway. Attention to detail is very important to me from our products to packaging. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Smitten Mitten Photography
Meghan Rolfe Photography
Lavender Rose Farms Photography

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