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More than a pretty color
Why Lavender?
Lavender Valley Acres, 4th Annual Festival, 14 June, 2008
okliving.jpg

An unlikely crop

The sweet smell of success drifts through the

air northwest of Apache as blooming season

begins at Lavender Valley. In shades of pink

purple ranging from light to dark, the lavender

blossoms are thriving—a feat some said could not be

accomplished in Oklahoma’s climate and soil. Jag

and Lynda Sodhi, members of Caddo Electric Cooperative,

decided they were up to the challenge.

While traveling in Washington state several years

ago, the couple saw rows of bushy purple flowers

covering the rolling acres. After conversations with

lavender growers, they were discouraged to learn

that the plants might not grow in the Oklahoma’s

climate and soil, but they were willing to give it a

try anyway.

“I was after Jag to get some type of hobby,” Lynda

says, adding that growing lavender seemed like a

good fit for the family.

Learning curve

In 2004, on acreage that has been in Lynda’s family

since 1926, they planted a few hundred lavender

plants with the help of their son Thomas, hoping

to determine which varieties would grow best in the

area. Some of the plants survived, while others did

not. Jag Sodhi describes this first crop as a “learning

curve.”

Eventually they found 10 varieties that grow

well in their area, and they expanded their crop to

include thousands of plants.

Most lavender plants take about three years to

reach full maturity, and they can grow from two to

four feet tall in shades of purple, pink, blue and even

white. While their color is appealing, their real value

lies in the oil inside their stems and buds.

Precious oil

It is this oil that the family harvests and turns into

lavender soaps, lotions, sachets and scented oils.

Lavender potpourri, dried lavender, bath salts and

candles are also available, as well as culinary lavender

products. The Sodhi family makes all of the

products themselves in their own commercial-sized

distilling facility.

They not only sell their products in a shop on

their property, but also through their website, www.

lavendervalleyacres.com. In addition, they have a

greenhouse, from which they sell young lavender

plants—all varieties they have tested and found to

be the best for Oklahoma.

Lavender has been used for centuries for a number

of purposes, Jag explains. It is probably bestknown

as a calming scent, but it is also an antiseptic

for insect bites, burns and wounds, and it even helps

keep away bugs and mosquitoes.

Lynda uses lavender oil in cooking. She says it can

be used in basically all of her cooking, noting that it

has numerous health benefits. One of her favorite

recipes is lavender cookies.

“Soldiers once used lavender during wars to rub

on battle wounds,” Jag notes.

Spreading the word

Completely intrigued with lavender, Jag would like

to help others become involved in growing

this plant

in Oklahoma. He even carries a bottle of lavender

oil in his pocket at all times, frequently sharing with

others.

Jag immigrated to the United States from India in

1970 and became a naturalized citizen in 1977. He

has served as a professor and software engineer for

various employers. Currently semi-retired, he works

as a professor for the University of Phoenix, which

allows him to work at home and remain active with

the lavender farm.

The Sodhi family is now planning their fourth

annual

Lavender Festival for Saturday, June 14; the

public is invited to attend. This event is definitely

a family affair, as the couple’s six children all come

home to help out with the activities.

The festival will be hosted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

and will feature tours of the family’s lavender gardens

as well as live entertainment. Various artists

and vendors will be selling their products, and food

and drinks will also be available, including lavender

cookies and teas and Indian specialty foods.

The Sodhi’s shop will also be open, displaying all

of their lavender gifts as well as jewelry and imported

clothing and other gift items from India.

The Sodhi family also raises a variety of peacocks,

which typically provide extra entertainment for

guests. For more information and directions, visit

www.lavendervalleyacres.com.

Last year’s event was attended by approximately

600 area residents. They hope to make this year’s

festival even bigger and better for the community.

What started as a hobby and an attempt to grow

an unusual crop in Oklahoma has turned into an

enjoyable family venture that has generated interest

across the state. OL

Jag Sodhi (foreground) and Thomas Sodhi are shown

with several of the young lavender plants available at their

greenhouse facility. Ten varieties of lavender that have been

tested and found to be the best for the area are sold at

their farm.

How one family turned a lavender hobby into business success

Story and photos by Sondra Boykin

22 OKLAHOMA LIVING