SAVOR THE SEASON: Adirondack View Vineyard and Lavender winds down a busy summer
KEESEVILLE — The Adirondack View Vineyard and Lavender lives up to its name.
The farm — at 59 Thompson Road — features a classic Adirondack landscape: Fields of rich greenery and lush forest that give way to mountains in the distance, including Whiteface Mountain, which looms high over the landscape from afar.
In the middle of it all is Adirondack View Vineyard and Lavender, an ever-growing organic farm nestled in the rural Keeseville countryside. Lindsey Pashow, her mother Dana and father Ken work together to plant crops, tend to the fields and fill the business’ new roadside farm store with lavender, quilts and other products.
Lavender isn’t a typical crop in the Adirondacks. In fact, there are just a handful of farms throughout northern New York that produce it. That’s partly because the plant, which flourishes with lots of sun and doesn’t do well in cold weather, has a hard time surviving in the North Country climate.
“Basically, in our area, we’re Zone 4,” Pashow said, referring to the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which takes into account an area’s average annual extreme minimum temperature to give growers a sense of what crop would be most likely to survive there. “Lavender does well in (Zone) 5 to (Zone) 9. It’s not meant for this area, and it’s a big investment, too.”
Growing lavender isn’t like growing cucumbers or tomatoes, she said. It requires a lot of extra care, and it has to be re-planted.
“You have to baby them, when it comes down to it,” Pashow said.
It took Pashow and her family four years of research, including visiting other farms in multiple states, to develop a system to sustain their lavender crop. They grow five different varieties.
“What’s neat about them is that they’re all different shades,” she said. The colors range from purple to pink, or white.
The fruits of the family’s labor have been well-recieved. After the farm was written about in the Plattsburgh Press-Republican in July, visitors came in droves to pick their own lavender, according to Pashow. This year, they sold out of their summer crop, save a few dried boquets.
“Lavender can be used for so many things,” she said. “It’s a whole culinary line that people just don’t even think about using. They think of essential oils and soap. But there’s so much more you can do with it.”
Keeseville is home to a number of farms, including Mace Chasm Farm, North Country Creamery and Fledging Crow Vegatables. Pashow said she’s friends with many of the other farmers in her area, and she was mindful about finding a crop to grow that would supplement the local food options, rather than compete with her neighbors.
That’s part of why her business focuses around lavender, grapes and a few other crops, such as sunflowers, berries and garlic.
Pashow’s parents first acquired the property partly because she got into horseback riding when she was a kid. They had horse jumps placed throughout the field. Pashow was given the 13.25-acre property by her parents about eight years ago. For the last few years, the business has mostly sold grapes in bulk to local wineries and through the St. Lawrence Valley Produce Auction in North Bangor, with some U-Pick operations. The lavender is also sold through the St. Lawrence Valley Produce Auction, plus U-Pick. The farm opened up a roadside farm store this year.
The business has been able to stay open throughout the coronavirus pandemic because it was deemed essential, though Pashow said she was hesitant to welcome a lot of visitors.
Pashow balances farmwork with a full-time job — and being the mother of an 8-month-old son.
“I’d love for him to do this, but there’s a side of me as a mom that wants him to be a doctor or a lawyer,” she said. She laughed. “He’s not even a year old yet, but I’m like, ‘You’re going to go to medical school and be a doctor, right?'”
Pashow’s days are full — but that doesn’t stop her mind from churning. As she walked through the fields, down neat rows of lavender bushes and grapes, she spoke about all the ideas she had for expanding the business. She pointed to a lush field beyond the rows of produce.
“We’re planning to open for events,” she said. “For weddings, baby showers, birthday parties. We’re going to have this leveled off and create a flat piece so people can bring in wedding tents. Electricity will be run within the next year out here.”
On top of it all, she’s also planning to build a new home on the property.
“My whole thing has been to grow slowly, and be able to make sure that I can continue at it. There was first 84 grape vines, then we put in another 150, then another 100, and another 325,” Pashow said. “I have to keep telling myself that I have to do this and make a plan. You have to have a short-term, mid-term and long-term goals.
“It’s difficult because there’s so much you want to do.”
For those interested in picking their own lavender, the best time to visit Adirondack View is in June and July, according to Pashow. She’s planning to host a Lavender Festival next summer. But anyone who chooses to visit now will have plenty to see.
“They can come see the property, see the view, take pictures. They can come see the lavender planting, it just won’t be in bloom,” she said. “They can do shopping for Chistmas. There’s quilted items, jellies, different lavender products.”
The Adirondack View Vineyard and Lavender farm store is open between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.