2nd Annual 123 Farm Lavender Festival
Set for June 2006, at Highland Springs Resort
By Pauline Huntington



Hidden away in the foothills of Southern California’s Cherry Valley is the home of Highland Springs Resort, and 123 Organic Farm. This is one of those rare locations, virtually unspoiled by the pollutants of modern city life. The resort and farm are located just three miles north off Interstate 10, ninety minutes east of downtown Los Angeles. Festival goers may call or visit the website for detailed directions.

The pristine land and lush landscape are guided by the vision of a purist, environmentalist, and advocate of health and organic lifestyle. This philosophy encourages staff and visitors to keep the land as close as possible to the way that nature always intended it to be.

The Resort takes up only part of the nine hundred acres that make up the site. The rest is left almost entirely to nature’s whim, and visited only by an occasional wanderer on foot, following one of the trails meandering along the hillside.

About six years ago, it was decided to give a portion of the land over to organic farming and this marked the beginning of 123 Farm. Currently, 123 Farm follows the strict regulations of CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers), and is proudly certified.

The farm’s  mission statement declares that it will live in harmony with the native wildlife of the area. After much research and consideration, lavender was found to be the ideal crop since it holds no appeal to the local  squirrels, rabbits, birds and bears. Lavender is also well suited to the dry Mediterranean climate of Cherry Valley. 123 Farm soon began expanding its borders to welcome other herbs, and the farm now produces organic peppermint, rosemary, oregano and sage.

The choice of crop proved to be a good one, and the farm now produces extremely high-quality organic essential oil and herbal products. The original seven acres of lavender fields have now been expanded to ten acres, on which several varieties of lavender are grown. These include English for the production of essential oil, and French for fresh cuts, culinary, and potpourri.

The magnificent array of color produced by row upon row of purple aromatic flowers left the owners feeling it was wrong to keep this sight for themselves. Consequently, last year they put a new event onto the calendar: the 1st Annual Lavender Festival at Highland Springs Resort.

This was a Lavender Festival that reached new heights. Visitors were whisked away into an almost fairytale world where they sat on log chairs at log tables to enjoy lavender delicacies as classical music and the fragrance of the fresh blooms pervaded the air. Thus, fortified with a little organic sustenance, it was time to wander the lavender fields, take a tour of the whole site, unwind with therapeutic massage, learn about the mysteries of aromatherapy, peruse the market area, or pick your own lavender.

Before the dust had settled from the departing tracks of the last visitor, plans were underway for the next festival. The resounding success of the first event encouraged 123 Farm to aim at something even bigger and more widely encompassing.

The 2nd Annual Lavender Festival has expanded and is scheduled to take place over two weekends this year — June 10-11 and June 17-18, 2006, 10 am through 6 pm each day.

123 Farm would like to share the naturally luscious, wooded  grounds and is offering free admission into the festival with a nominal parking fee. As an added bonus, several activities are complimentary such as Organic Farm Tours, Aromatherapy Lectures, Essential Oil Distillation Demonstrations, Children’s Story Hour, and Lavender Cooking Classes.

The Festival will offer many other activities for an additional charge such as Personal Aromatherapy Blending Workshops, Therapeutic Massage and Acupressure, Alpine Tower Climbs, and Family Nature Crafts.

During the first weekend of the festival, Sharon Shipley, the author of “The Lavender Cookbook” and founder and director of Mon Cheri Cooking School and Caterers, will be holding a class on Cooking with Lavender. There will also be an opportunity to taste some of the items on her menu.

The festival’s “Lavender Café” will offer natural and organic fair, featuring lavender-flavored food and beverages. Last year’s favorite was iced organic lavender green tea. This year we will offer lavender lemonade, organic greens with lavender vinaigrette, grilled lemon lavender chicken sandwiches, lavender cookies, and much, much more!

June 18th is Father’s Day, a fact that has not slipped the minds of the festival organizers. A unique feature of the Resort is the Team Development Center, featuring an Alpine Climbing Tower. Fathers and their families, as well as individuals, can experience the fun, the thrill and challenge of rope climbing with trained facilitators in a safe environment.

This year’s festival aims at creating a family atmosphere. The Family Herbal Crafts Corner is expected to contribute much to this endeavor. Here, in a cozy, country setting, storytellers will present books on a natural theme for the young, and young at heart. The stories will be followed by related nature crafts  as well as an adult crafts, so all members of the family and those who come on their own, can express their creativity.

This year, once more, visitors will be invited on a tour of the grounds and lavender fields — a popular feature of last year’s festival. The tour would not be complete without a visit to the huge live oak tree at the southeast end of the new lavender field. This tree is a longtime resident of the land, and generally referred to as the “Thousand Year Old Oak”, even though its exact age is not known.

Once again, visitors will have an opportunity to pick their own lavender, experience more tasty lavender-flavored morsels  and a wide variety of fun and interesting activities to promote health and well-being.

123 Farm is hoping this will be an opportunity to welcome even more visitors than last year. If you are in love with lavender or the natural world,  be sure to put this event on your calendar.

Highland Springs Resort is at 10600 Highland Springs Ave., Cherry Valley, CA 92223. For more information, call (951) 845-1151 or visit: www.hsresort.com

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