Another benefit of the plant is that it grows very well in Nevada soil. Diane and Mike Van Camp have been growing lavender for eight years at their home in Stagecoach. They market their lavender products from Campies Lavender Patch at farmers markets in northern Nevada, providing their customers with lotions, soaps and oils to aid their health and appease their senses.
“It likes the alkali soil. The best way to grow it in Nevada is to put it in Nevada dirt,” Mike Van Camp said. “We put in hardly any additives, no mulch or any of that stuff, just a little bit of lime. The lavender loves it.”
Maureen Lamerdin, an Oriental Medicine Doctor in Carson City, discussed the benefits of lavender in a short article titled “Healing Powers of Lavender.” Lamerdin elaborates on the intricacies of lavender benefitting the human body.
“We have found the healing powers of lavender to stimulate and supplement the body’s healing forces is unmatched by most modern pharmaceuticals,” she said. “It stimulates the immune system, yet it’s also analgesic, soothing muscle aches and taking the pain out of an insect sting non-toxically.”
Lamerdin suggests brushing the skin with seven drops of lavender oil prior to showering to boost the immune system and blood circulation, or soaking in a bath adding eight drops of lavender for at least 15 minutes at the first sign of illness or muscle aches.
Mike Van Camp told the story of lavender farmers during the Black Plague being safe from the deadly disease because of the hours they spent in the fields. He said the story may not be true, but it does exemplify how helpful lavender can be to the human body.
Business is not the most important part of lavender farming for the Van Camps. Mike Van Camp said motivating others to take up the hobby and educating those who are interested is a major part of being a lavender farmer.
“I’m old, so I don’t have to worry about people undercutting me,” he said jokingly. “I don’t have to be cutthroat and I like to see other people grow it.”
Mike Van Camp has given educational talks to farming enthusiasts in Carson City, and has partnered with Western Nevada College for a workshop at his farm discussing farming techniques and benefits in hopes of inspiring more people to grow lavender in Nevada.
The Van Camps’ home in Stagecoach is built on five acres, two and a half of which has been converted for farming. Diane, Mike, their daughter and step-daughter manage the planting and upkeep, a family oriented environment that they hope to continue for years to come. Their main goal, according to Mike, is to diversify their lavender plants in terms of color, species and type.
“We have several different varieties and grow them in white, blue, pink and purple,” he said. “Our real goal is to get as many different cultivar of lavender as possible. We have about forty right now and we are hoping to get more.”
Mike said he relies on his brother, who introduced him to lavender farming, and some personal research to track down the varieties of the plant from across the nation. The Van Camps add about 200 to 300 plants to their farm each year and are always looking to expand the farm to fit the full five acres.