The benefits of lavender are many. Its oil can sooth burns and relieve stress. As a lotion, it can smooth dry, cracked skin. A pouch of it dried can be added to drawers, suitcases and gym bags to eliminate odors and freshen things up. But can the tiny purple flower give disabled adults an opportunity to learn horticultural skills while earning a paycheck?
Thanks to Kathy Lewis at Herbs and More in Farmersville, the answer is yes! Along with her business partner Jody Graves, Lewis founded the program in 2007. Since then, the pair have turned an old church and the adjacent dirt lot into a lavender oasis with 400 plants. But the goal isn’t just to grow lavender, it’s to give adults with special needs a sense of self-worth…and a salary.
Most of the 45 men and women who participate in the Herbs and More program do everything from harvest the flowers (like they’re doing right now on days when it’s not too hot), to sort the buds from stems and dry them, getting the flowers ready to be turned into a variety of products like lotion, room spray, soap and dryer sheets, which are sold on site and at festivals around the Valley. The proceeds from sales go to pay their salaries and help fund the program.
(Today is actually the final day of the “you-pick” festival at Herbs and More where you can cut your own lavender and check out all of their products. It runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 226 E. Front St., Farmersville.)
Here, Lewis talks about the wonders of lavender, why she started the program, and how the special needs adults who participate are some of the best sales people around.
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