Publication:The Lawton Constitution; Date:Jun 22, 2012; Section:News; Page Number:1D
Apache man grows plant that people said wouldn’t survive here
BY JOSH ROUSE
APACHE — A student once told Jag Sodhi he couldn’t grow
lavender in Oklahoma. He took that as a personal challenge. A decade later, Sodhi hosts one of the most unique festivals in
“They said it’s too hot,” the retired
professor said. “They said there’s too much sun. There are 43 varieties of lavender. I did research and I knew
one of them had to be able to grow here.”
For the next two years,
Sodhi accumulated different types of lavender and planted them on a small section of his 500 acres of land outside Apache.
Once he discovered the purple flowers would not only grow but would thrive in the harsh Southwest Oklahoma weather, he opened
Lavender Valley Acres and hosted his first-ever Lavender Festival. Saturday will mark the eighth year of the festival and
Sodhi said he’s going all out.
“I made the festival free for
everyone this year,” he said. “Everyone that comes out here is a friend and I can’t charge friends.”
The lavenders are already in full bloom and Sodhi promises those few plants
that haven’t quite bloomed yet will be bright and purple when people pull into Lavender Valley starting at 9 a.m. Sodhi
will give free tours and show visitors the different varieties of lavender and how he’s managed to cultivate them throughout
the years. But lavenders won’t be the only attraction at the festival this year. A belly dancer troupe will perform
several shows on a stage throughout the eight-hour event. Many of his more than 30 peacocks, including several rare white
ones, will be on display and even dance for visitors. Sodhi said a lavender festival also wouldn’t be complete without
“We are going to have lavender cookies, lavender chicken,
lavender baked goods,” he said. “We have traditional Indian cooking and it will all have lavender in it. If you
have never eaten lavender food before, you will love it.”
began planning this year’s festival as last year’s event came to a close. Drought and blistering heat inspired
him to expand the food pavilion in front of his home and shroud it with netting to act as shade. Now visitors can eat their
lavender food and enjoy the peacock and belly dancing shows under the cool cover of shade.
Last year’s extreme weather also initially put this year’s festival in doubt. A small portion of the lavenders
died during the drought, but the majority survived. It was touch and go for a while, but Sodhi managed to pull the plants
through with careful watering and care. He has since planted new lavenders to replace any that died.
“We have had snow storms, ice storms, blizzards, floods and droughts and my lavenders are
still here,” Sodhi said. “Southwest Oklahoma is truly blessed.”
After the festival, Sodhi invites visitors to stop by his gift shop where he has products with lavender extracts including
lotions, oils and even bath salts.
To get to the festival on Saturday,
find your way to Apache. (From Lawton, take the U.S. 62/281 exit off Interstate 44 and go north.) From the T-stop in Apache
at the intersection of Oklahoma 19, U.S. 62 and U.S. 281, turn west on Oklahoma 19 then follow the signs to the farm.
STEVE MILLER/STAFF Jag Sodhi shows off one of the oldest lavender plants on his property that survived rain, snow
and severe storms over the last several years thanks to a material on the ground that seals in heat and moisture for the plants.
STEVE MILLER/STAFF One of Jag Sodhi’s oldest peacocks
spreads its feathers on display at Lavender Valley Acres.The peacocks will perform a dance show for visitors during the Lavender
STEVE MILLER/STAFF A cabbage white butterfly
lands on a lavender plant at Lavender Valley Acres.