PALISADE, Colo. (KKCO) Lavender farms in Western Colorado are increasing in acreage and there is a good reason for it. It's a hearty cash crop that can sustain a fluctuation of temperatures, from hot summers to chilly winters.
Lavender is used in everything from hand soap to honey. The Western Slope creates conditions perfect for lavender and local farms are cashing in on it.
This past year has been tough for many farmers in Western Colorado. Ruth Elkins, the co-owner of Sprigs and Sprouts in Palisade, says the extreme temperatures in the region have made it difficult for many of her crops, except one.
“Incredible amount of damage, and I just act like a cow and we took it all to the ground and decided you're either going to live or you're going to die and that tells you how hearty lavender is," said Elkins.
According to horticulturalist Curtis Swift lavender likes dry conditions and flourishes in Western Colorado's unique climate.
“[Lavender is] great for the local economy. It’s also a beautiful crop and it does well here," said Swift.
For Palisade's grape growers, lavender does even better when it is planted next to grapes acting as insulation and Swift conducted the research to prove it.
“Lavender plots planted between the rows of grapes, lavender actually did better in the winter and had less winter injury as compared to plants that were out in the open," said Swift.
What's the trick to growing lovely lavender?
“The soil matters, the watering matters," said Swift.
For Elkins, she encourages anyone in the valley interested lavender to start. She says it’s hard work that pays off.
“You don't plant lavender and diamonds fall out of the sky. I haven't experienced that yet, but maybe one day I will," said Elkins.