Lavender's Blue, Dilly Dilly: Visiting Terre Bleu
One beautiful afternoon a couple weekends ago, my family and I visited Terre Bleu Lavender Farm for the second time. When we were there last year, it was just the start of the season, and the plants weren't fully in bloom yet. This time, we specially planned to visit when they were at their peak - you can see the difference in the photos below. My mom LOVES lavender, and had been waiting an entire year to come back again.
Terre Bleu was established in 2011 by the Baird family, and has since been recognized as a popular agro-tourist destination as well as the largest lavender farm in Ontario, with over 30,000 plants. However, it is not just a farm; the premises also features an outdoor yoga area, a distillery for making lavender essential oils, an apiary for making pure lavender honey, an equestrian demonstration ring, a farmhouse for all your lavender shopping needs, and recently, an herb garden and bar. The farm also hosts a variety of events, including concerts, photography exhibitions, and weddings. For more information, visit their site here.
There are over 200 cultivars of lavender out there, and Terre Bleu has six planted. Typically, lavender is classified into three different groups: English Lavender/True Lavenders, Lavandins, and French Lavenders. Below are some of the different lavender plants that can be found on the Terre Bleu grounds.
DID YOU KNOW: lavender comes from the mint family, which also includes rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, and mint.
Most of the farm consists of Grosso, as it has a very strong scent, and is therefore one of the best plants to produce essential oils, as well as dried sachets and bouquets. Recently, I've been into baking cookies, and one thing I want to try sometime is lavender shortbread; the pink Melissa, known for its sweet fragrance, is often used for cooking. To learn more about the different kinds of lavender at the farm, visit the page here.
Exploring In Style
Essential oils are growing in popularity day by day, and lavender is high in demand due to its calming properties. At Terre Bleu, they harvest their organic lavender and make their own pure lavender essential oils through distillation. The process is long, slow, and requires a LOT of lavender to create the small bottle that you purchase - no wonder most of their farm is dedicated to Grosso!
Process: lavender → steam through plant → essential oil vapour → fragrant steam → condensing coil → cool → condense to hydrosol & essential oil → separation → collection. To learn more about the farm's harvesting and distillation process, visit the page here.
The Herb Bar / The Apiary
The Herb Bar is something new to the farm this year, so it was a pleasant surprise. They had two special lavender mocktails at the bar - Lavender Peach Bellini and Pineapple Lavender Mojito - for purchasing, as well as bundles of fresh herbs from the garden. We watched as one of the staff picked some mint leaves straight off from their planter when the ingredient for the drinks ran out. I can attest that the drinks were perfectly flavoured and chilled, and fresh.
As mentioned earlier, true and pure lavender honey starts with a bee pollinating a lavender plant, and therefore is very rare. One can infuse lavender flavours into the honey, but the taste is actually quite different. Terre Bleu releases a bunch of bees every day to pollinate the lavender plants, so remember not to swat them away when you go visit! Their honeycombs are nested in what is called an apiary (pictured above). Learn more about the rare, pure lavender honey here.
Other Fun Stuff
There are some other small attractions at the farm, including the Big Yellow Door, which is situated in another lavender field, through a trek in the wood trails (Yellow Bench Trail). The colour contrast of the yellow and purple (just like Laurier's colours!) make it a popular photo stop on the site. The quote on the doorframe says:
"Walk through the door, your worries behind you, your joys are ahead." - Madeline Baird, age 10
Terre Bleu is also home to five horses: Atticus, Star, Belle, Finleigh, and Enya. The farm occasionally puts on some equestrian events, where the horses will show off their skills in the equestrian demonstration ring. They also help the staff carry sap from maple trees, to make their special lavender maple syrup.
Of course, the part my mom was looking forward to the most was shopping! All their goods are natural and organic, made from the lavender that they grow, of course. Products range from bath and home, to food. Some of the items we purchased were:
- 100% Pure Essential Oil - I've honestly never found any other with such amazing quality
- Lavender Mosquito Spray - haven't tried this yet, but we wanted something a bit more natural for our upcoming vacation
- Culinary Lavender Buds - for whenever I bake lavender shortbread cookies
- Pure Lavender Honey - SO good, I love putting it in my teas
And then of course, there's the lavender ice cream that they sell. I wish I could have a tub of this in my freezer, because it was really rich in lavender, and not too heavy and creamy. The waffle cone was also really crisp, and had just the right amount of sweetness to it.
Tips & Notes / Final Verdict
Here are a few tips and notes before you visit:
- There is an admission fee to explore the fields.
- The hours of operation are from 11am-4pm, but I highly recommend getting there early, right when they open.
- To ensure the plants remain undamaged, don't walk over them and leave your pets at home.
- Be prepared for quite a bit of walking.
- Go on the tour - you will learn a lot.
If you are someone who loves lavender and is around the area, this makes a very nice summer outing with your significant other, friends, or family.
(Oh, and did I mention that their lavender ice cream is TO DIE FOR?)