It is amazing what you can find by just piddling around the internet! A few months ago I was trying to help my mom plan a family trip somewhere in the Georgia/Tennessee/Kentucky/North Carolina/South Carolina area. Since that’s a huge area to look through I did a bit of asking around and heard that North Georgia is lovely so I thought I’d start looking there. Turns out it is lovely and I found websites for huge cabins, wineries, hot air balloon festivals, and… the biggest lavender farm in Georgia that’s open to the public.
The Red Oak Lavender Farm is nestled in the back country hills of Dahlonega, Georgia. Duh-lawn-egg-uh. It took me the whole day to figure out how to say that right. Anyway, as soon as I realized that there was this lavender farm, I immediately wanted to go and just my luck: there was a festival coming up in June! From that moment on I had my heart set on going. Yes, I realize that’s a silly and frivolous thing to get one’s heart set on, but I did. It seemed like a little bit of Southern France right at my finger tips and since I can’t go to Southern France right now, this was the next best thing.
I mentioned it to my husband, knowing he could care less about driving three hours for a festival revolving around edible flowers. I certainly wasn’t going to drag him along but I wanted to give him the heads up that I was probably going to go for the day. Well time passed and with the festival approaching, I started asking my girlfriends if they wanted to go. All said “Yes, but…” which is understandable but I really didn’t want to go by myself. I wasn’t going to let that stop me though and the morning of the festival I got up and got ready to go. I’d just finished putting mascara on when the sweetest of all sweet husbands walks into the room and informs me that he’s cancelled his whole day of plans with his buddies to come with me. Y’all, I cried. I tried not to - wet mascara and all - but I failed. It was the most selfless thing he could have done in that moment.
So at this point I’m all sappy but I manage to pull myself together and we get on our way. A few hours later we’re a quarter mile out from the farm and I realize that apparently the entire state of Georgia has also decided that this festival would be fun. It was crowded to say the least and I must admit, they seemed a bit unprepared for the number of attendees. It turns out they had to close early that day (after we left) because more than 8,000 people showed up! That’s a huge win for them though! Clearly they’re doing something right!
We eventually managed to make our way through the crowds and realized that they had gotten really creative with lots of activities and things to do. People were cutting their own lavender, making lavender crowns, eating lavender ice cream, and shopping for all sorts of other products in the gift shop. There was a lovely quartet complete with a harpist and I must admit it was fun just watching the kids run around with their little flower crowns, checking out the chickens and so on.
The owner, Tina, did a fabulous job giving a presentation on all the different kinds lavender, how to care for the plants, etc. and answering everyone’s questions. The Red Oak Lavender Farm has about 2,000 plants of 20 different varieties. Tina taught us about which different kinds are best for scents and which are best for cooking (apparently the English varieties are best for this), why there are different colors of lavender, and so on. The farm even has its own bee hives to make pollination easier! I’d love to get my hands on some of that lavender honey!
We never did make it into the gift shop. I honestly just completely forgot about it. But we did pick our own lavender. Translated: My sweet, kind, loving husband stood in line with me for 30 minutes while I made friends with the people in line in front of us while we waited so that I could pick lavender. Y’all, it was so hot and so bright and so busy and he was so patient! His reward? Some really awesome food at a local pub in downtown Dahlonega. I think it was worth it because the food at Spirits Tavern was amazing. Two words: Fried Kalettes. I also found out that the University of North Georgia is in Dahlonega, which is probably what contributed to the cool, youthful vibe of the small town.
When given the opportunity, I’ll return to Northern Georgia in a heartbeat. I’d love to see more of Dahlonega and I’ve heard wonderful things about Blue Ridge, Helen, and that whole area of Southern Appalachia. And though I had a wonderful time at such a gorgeous lavender farm, I think I owe it to my husband to let him choose the next adventure.•