Lavender Fields ~
Written, produced and photographed by Monica Hart
Images ~ Monica Hart
The fragrant valley of
blue, the quaint,
ocher farm house,
this could be a
pastoral scene straight
out of Provence.
But this gorgeous
three acre lavender farm, is
actually tucked away
in the heart of Woodinville Washington
wine country. It’s morning in the field
at Woodinville Lavender and
Tom and Brenda Frei are soaking up the
beauty. Wilfred, their trusty companion is
keeping stride. The two
fell in love with lavender while staying at a
bed & breakfast in Sequim, a city known for its lavender.
And what’s not to love about
lavender. It’s a much celebrated, fragrant herb, in the
mint family. There are more than 400 varieties, each perfumed
with that familiar and soothing scent. A scent Tom says,
takes you back to grandma’s garden. For Tom and
Brenda, the seed was planted. Then, five years ago, on a
whim, Tom knocked on a Woodinville property owner’s door. He
learned, that this lovely plot of land was about to go on the
market. It was meant to be. The transformation
began and with it, the planting.
Today, Woodinville Lavender
features seven varieties
in the field, from
English to French,
with even more in the
orchard and more still,
dotting the grounds, in gorgeous shades
of purple, pink and white.
The varieties have names like, ‘Miss
Katherine and Melissa’ and Tom rattles them
off, with an easy familiarity. The farm seems
right at home here amid the growing
Woodinville wine and tourist district. It’s certainly a
beautiful pairing and the lavender thrives in
the rich soil of the Sammamish valley.
But the guy behind the
is a bit of an enigma. You see, by day,
Tom Frei is a rocket scientist…really…he is. Yes, day job
rocket scientist and in the evenings and
early mornings, dressed in his uniform…
a purple polo, Tom looks
every bit a lavender farmer.
Farming, is in his genes though.
He grew up on a 15-hundred acre
wheat and pea farm in the Palouse.
But the mechanized production of a big-scale farm seemed
to Tom, a hard way to make a living.
He decided to build rockets, instead…and now cuts his crops
by hand. He says he is plant person at
heart and a master gardener. He read somewhere, that you
show signs of what you want to be, early. He remembers
asking for a terrarium for his birthday one year.
And now, that early passion and
the pursuit of the American entrepreneurial dream
have led him here. His engineering/corporate side,
saw the practical potential of
the lavender business and
he just opened the store,
with Woodinville Lavender products,
lining the shelves.
Tom says, a lot of people don’t realize just
how versatile lavender is,
with its medicinal, culinary and classic soothing
properties. Woodinville Lavender sells
it all, from fresh and u-cut lavender
to the dried and
There are oils, teas
and spice mixes too
and Brenda’s delicious lavender
shortbread cookies barely get a chance to
cool! She’ll tell you, this is really Tom’s
thing and she supports his passion.
This morning, he has already harvested and
bundled fragrant stems of lavender
for a wedding. The bride
saw these in the field and now they
will be a
part of her special day.
Tom says people want to know where their products
come from. They want the story behind the goods.
It’s something he gleaned from his
first two years in the business,
selling at farmer’s markets.
He also believes the lavender farm,
together with the French Bakery down the street, add
another layer of richness to the already fertile
Woodinville wine and tourist industry. They are
experimenting with having the patio
available for small gatherings and
having lived in the area, I know the
sunsets are incredible! Tom has been approached about
holding wine events on the
picturesque grounds. If you are so inclined,
you may soon be able to enjoy a glass
here. For now,
sit, shop, breath in,
and experience the beauty of