MORE than 20 years ago Annemarie Manders started growing lavender on her Yarra Valley farm as a hobby.
At the time she was working as an operating theatre nurse.
Shortly after, Annemarie swapped the surgical gloves for gardening gloves so that she could tend to her flourishing lavender business, Warratina Lavender Farm.
"I literally jumped in the deep and started growing a bit of lavender," Annemarie said. "I had no experience whatsoever," she said.
This year, Annemarie harvested almost 350kg of lavender from about 12,000 plants.
"It has been a good year. We've had good rain over the winter which helped with soil moisture," she said.
The farm now supplies more than 30 wholesalers around Australia. "It took energy and passion to make the business evolve," she said.
Annemarie grows four types of lavender over 3ha, with egerton blue and munstead varieties used in cooking.
"Both of those lavenders can be put into any food product, whether they be teas, scones, biscuits or ice cream."
Planting happens in May or late September, depending on soil moisture, and flowers over the next two months.
The edible varieties are harvested late November.
Non-edible varieties are harvested in late December.
The Warratina Lavender farm has its own tearoom where lavender is served to visitors.
Annemarie has taken her lavender across Australia and has attended agricultural field days and festivals.
"We like to give people the lavender experience where they can actually put their hands in the dried lavender, smell it and talk about how we pick it, harvest it and what products you can make out of it," Annemarie explained.
"It's a calming and relaxing herb."
Warratina Lavender Farm has won a number of awards, including seven awards at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.
- For more information about the lavender farm, visit warratinalavender.com.au