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Mary Hamer tends to her lavender plants at Loess Hills Lavender Farm in Iowa.

A Dream Come True with an Iowa Lavender Farm

A dream and some hard work never fails. Mary Hamer returned from a trip to Washington, determined to start a lavender farm in her home state of Iowa. Once she found the right farm (and bid on it herself at an auction) Mary and her husband started the Loess Hills Lavender Farm in Iowa in 2010. After planting over 4,000 plants, Mary now uses the lavender she grows in a variety of products that she sells in her on-farm store. The Loess Hills Lavender Farm has grown into quite the attraction, welcoming thousands of visitors each year.

Iowa’s Very First Lavender Farm

The Loess Hills Lavendar Farm is located on the very western edge of Iowa in Missouri Valley. The geological features in the area are unique, and provide the right conditions for the delicate lavender plant to grow. Mary spent years doing research before she started the farm, and found varieties that would flourish in Iowa. At the time she started, she was the first lavender farm in Iowa. In addition to lavender, Mary has converted a 10-acre field into a pollinator habitat where visitors can explore and pick bouquets of beautiful Iowa wildflowers.

Loess Hills Lavender Farm is located in Missouri Valley, Iowa.

Lavender in the Looming Hills

We arrived at Mary’s on a hot summer day, and were instantly delighted at the pristine farm, tucked away between the looming hills. Mary was already off and running for the day, so we met her at the farm store to get our day started. Just walking up the front path is a treat as what seemed like hundreds of butterflies circled around, landing on us with ease. 

Walking through the front doors of Loess Hills Lavendar Farm is like walking into heaven if you like the smell of lavender. The lavender products were everywhere, from sprays to oils, soaps, sachets and so much more. We followed Mary back through the doors to the kitchen. She hosts all types of events at the farm from teas to parties. While there were no events going on today, Mary was whipping up a batch of her “almost world famous” lavender sugar cookies. Mary stirs the cookies while we wandered around her to snap pictures. You can easily see this is a recipe she knows by heart. She sets the oven and we head outside for a look around the farm.

Lessons in Growth

Mary drove us up the hill to where her 4,000 lavender plants are situated. Mary told us that the first 5 years of growing lavender went great. The lavender plants were growing beautifully, then they were hit with a drought. Mary learned the hard way that she can’t take what people do in other states and do it the same way in Iowa when growing lavender plants. A few more seasons of spring weather with drastic temperature changes followed, and it devastated her lavender plants. Now, they have replanted nearly everything with new plants of English Lavender, which is a heartier variety. Mary treats the new plants a little different by putting down a black weed mat and white limestone rock. 

Next up, we head out to the pollinator habitat, full of wildflowers and native grasses as far as the eye can see. The plants are filled with bees, wasps, butterflies and other pollinators. We stop long enough for me to take a brief walk down into the field.

A butterfly lands on a flower in the pollinator habitat at Loess Hills Lavender Farm.

Now, it’s time to jump back in the UTV and head back down to the store and kitchen to check on the famous lavender cookies. The smell is almost overwhelming as Mary pulled them out of the oven. They turned out to be everything we hoped for and more. The secret trick is rolling them in lavender sugar prior to baking. The lavender taste is subtle but delicious. 

Mary Hamer takes out her "almost world famous" lavender cookies out of the oven.

The demands of the farm are great and never really stop, but Mary admits that she loves it all. It’s all so clear, from the delicious homemade cookies to the fields of flowers and the store filled with lavender goodness, a trip to the Loess Hills would not be complete without a stop to meet FarmHer Mary.

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11 thoughts on “A Dream Come True with an Iowa Lavender Farm

  1. This was a very inspiring program. Lavender is a favorite plant of mine, and one I wanted to do more with. My husband and I have been involved in Farmers Market and I would like to offer Lavender products to our line up. I have a couple of questions could you help with them? I want to have a small garden of Lavender maybe up a 1000 plants, how much room would I need? We live in Ohio our soil is clay, what amendments will I need? And which of all of the Lavender varieties are the easiest to raise and most fragrant?
    Thank you so much for doing the FarmHers program on RFD. Joyce Edwards 740-400-4449

    1. Oh gosh, I had not come to the site yet, so sorry I did not answer your questions sooner.
      Lavender does not like clay, so amending your soil will be needed. You would dig your holes a little bigger than usual. Or you would till the rows, amend your soil with small crushed rock mixed with lime. If you are not on a hillside, you would need to mound your rows. We have not had to do that because we are on a slope and the soil is loess, so it percolates the water away. Lavender wants a drink, but it doesn’t want to sit in it. Nothing will kill lavender quicker than sitting in water. Of course once you till soil, it brings up long dormant weed seeds that will drive you a little crazy.. well a lot crazy. 1000 plants would easily fit in an acre. We plant 3 ft off center. We have tried several different lavenders and have been most happy with Lavendula Angustifolia. There are many different types of that species. Hidcote and Royal Velvet are very hardy. We are trying a Hidcote blue this year. Our springs have been killing us the last 3 years! We start to warm up, then freeze. We do that through April, now this year it also went through May. We were not able to plant new plants until June. We are hoping the Hidcote Blue will finally give us some relief. Hope that helps. Feel free to give us a call or contact us by email. God Bless, Stay Safe and Healthy!

  2. I have sent a comment and a couple of question please look for my email or call me at 740-400-4449 EST.

    Joyce Edwards

  3. loved this show. I am from Vicksburg MS we are surrounded by Loess Soil as well. Interesting might be able to grow lavender
    Also love your shows too

    1. Yes you sure can, probably easier than us as you are a little warmer down there. Sounds like you would have good soil for Lavender. I’m sure there are Lavender Farms in Mississippi, you might try to google for Lavender Farms and see what you find. Good Luck!!

    2. Yes you sure can, probably easier than us as you are a little warmer down there. Sounds like you would have good soil for Lavender. I’m sure there are Lavender Farms in Mississippi, you might try to google for Lavender Farms and see what you find. Good Luck!!

  4. Congratulations Mary and Tim! We were pictured on FarmHer years ago and I absolutely love the featured promotions for small farmers. Marji Guyler Alaniz is a genius. But Mary – you are also a formidable opponent to Mother Nature and I will put my faith in you and your enterprise. Stay blessed!

  5. That sounds like a fun experience! I would love to go there to pick lavender. It’s a favorite plant of mine and my mom’s. I have a question. How much does it cost to go to this flower farm?

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