“Come visit us before you go to Provence!” – Back in March at a market for artisan food and craft products, we came across a couple who cultivated organic lavender in the northern province of Sondrio. On their display table they had an interesting assortment of lavender and fruit jams and other lavender products, so we got to chatting about how we love the purple fields of Provence and would never have guessed that they exist in Lombardy too. Goes to show how much we still have yet to discover, even in our own backyard so to speak, and so we took them up on the invite and called in for a visit this past Sunday.
The owners of Profumi di Valtellina deal exclusively in the species of lavender used for medicinal purposes (lavandula angustifolia). Implementing organic growing methods, the small, contained fields are cultivated on the mountainside at several locations. This is the first thing that struck me with surprise, that unlike Provence, the rows of deep purple-blossomed bushes stretched out in neat rows along a downward angle. Fields at a lower elevation were a vibrant hue (this type sees an early summer harvest in the month of June), while those higher up were still relatively pale in color. It was also interesting to learn that there’s a second blooming period in the fall and possibly a third if spring is exceptionally warm.
The lay of the land means harvesting is done manually with a team of 2-3 people, but with 8 years experience under their belt, I get the feeling they’ve got it down to an art. Machinery might play a part in the future but it’ll need to be suited to operate on a slope.
It was great to get a little tour (they drove us to the separate fields) and gain insight as to what goes into such an enterprise. Before leaving we purchased lavender & fruit jams (plum, apple, peach), lavender water, soap, oil and of course, a couple of plants to take home. Mille grazie Armando and Agnese!