Karen Lockwood has a calm demeanor. She’s kind-hearted and welcomes visitors into her world with open arms.
Being wrapped in the sweet scents of lavender on a daily basis probably makes it difficult to not be as calm as Lockwood is — and she wants others to have the opportunity to regularly retreat to a tranquil environment like hers.
Since May, Lockwood has been selling Royal Velvet, a variety of lavender, to benefit the Skaneateles Historical Society. Each plant is $5 and can be purchased at the farm, 1682 W. Lake Road in Skaneateles. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
The idea for the benefit came after Lockwood completed extensive research on the family farm — 120-acres that overlook Skaneateles Lake and make anyone aware of their surrounding forget about the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Lockwood said she approached Joan Thomsen with the historical society a few years ago looking for help.
“I went to the historical society to do research on the farm,” Lockwood said.
Through her research at the Skaneateles Historical Society and contacting Onondaga County, Lockwood found out her husband, Gary, was the fifth generation of his family at Lockwood Farm.
The history behind it is very interesting,” Lockwood said, adding that knowing the history of the 120-acre farm is the interesting part.
In order to thank the historical society for its help, she decided a lavender sale would be a great benefit for them and chose Royal Velvet, which, when it blossoms, is a deep purple color. It is just one of more than 16 varieties grown on the farm.
Lockwood and her husband travel the country to do research on lavender and along the way are able to talk to others about what works and what doesn’t. More importantly, they’ve discovered what varieties like the weather here in Central New York.
The chance she took with growing lavender in the Finger Lakes began in 2001.
“I wanted it in my wedding bouquet,” Lockwood said. “It was just nice to have something from the farm. ... I think I was looking for a project I could do on the farm.”
By her side in the endeavor was Gary, who has vast amounts of agricultural knowledge between his education from Cornell University and working the farm for so many years.
“He’s just such a great support,” Lockwood said. “This is our entertainment.”
Then, in 2005 she ordered two varieties to really get started, Lockwood said.
“Is this type of lavender going to grow here?” was the biggest question, and with more than a dozen varieties now growing, it looks like the Lockwoods got their answer.
In the beginning, she and Gary planted four test sites on the property to find the best spot to grow and eventually went with planting out front on the property close to the road.
According to Lockwood, she wanted to plant by the road because it would look great as people drove past. From there, the rest is truly history in the making.
“We just decided to keep going. It was just too cool,” she said.
But growing lavender is no easy task. Because the plant is not native to the region the upkeep and care requires a great deal of attention.
“It is a lot of work. It’s backbreaking,” Lockwood said.
Despite the intense physical labor, Lockwood is devoting her time to making the business grow — she’s added more products to her lavender line, opened a store at the farm that doubles as a drying barn and hopes to some day run her own distillery to extract the oil from lavender for her products.
While the farm once was open only during “you pick” days, Lockwood now regularly welcomes visitors to come see what her project has turned into.
At the market, she offers a variety of products including lavender soaps, new “Skeeter Cheater” bug spray and “Ahhh!” bug bite soother, foot soaks, scrubs and, for the angry driver, road rage key chains — a small satchel filled with lavender that you can squeeze to release the calming scent when stuck in traffic or even just having a bad day.
For more products, log onto lockwoodfarm.blogspot.com.
Visitors are also welcome to join Lockwood for her lavender festival on July 10 and 11.
In its third year, the annual Finger Lakes Lavender Festival at Lockwood Farm is sure to be a people pleaser. Last year the Lockwoods welcomed more than 400 people to the farm for the festival.
“We just love having people out here,” Lockwood said.
WHERE: 1682 W. Lake Road, Skaneateles
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
EVENTS: Royal Velvet lavender plant sale to benefit the Skaneateles Historical Society. Each plant is $5.
UPCOMING: July 10 and 11: 3rd Annual Finger Lake Lavender Festival at Lockwood Farm