It all started with an intrinsic question from Denise Salafia to her inner self, ‘How can I make the world a more beautiful place?’ This simple, yet multi-layered question, was inspired by her favorite children’s book “Miss Rumphius,” by Barbara Cooney a book Denise read aloud often to her mother has she was dying from breast cancer. Denise’s answer to herself was lavender, and so the seed was planted both literally and figuratively for what is today, the thriving business of Connecticut’s largest lavender farm, Lavender Pond Farm in Killingworth.
Denise, originally from Clinton, was the former owner of the Dance Corner, however due to family illness she sold that business, focused on family and used gardening as a respite from the stresses of the world. She ended up planting 70 lavender plants at her former residence in Killingworth, when the Lavender Farm property, at 318 Roast Meat Hill Road came on the market and called to her.
She and her husband Chris didn’t look at any other properties to buy, just this one, and they knew it was “there” place.
“We have about 25 acres here, and we planted 9000 lavender plants the first season,” said Denise, who strives daily to make her farm and her products, serene, peaceful and helpful.
The property, which is home to large variety of English and French lavender plants in all shapes, sizes and hues of purple, is also home to a beautiful fresh-water pond, a lily pond, trails, a large garden chess set, a gazebo, a handmade covered bridge, numerous benches, outdoor tables, and a very unique solar sunflower, the only one of its kind in the state.
“A friend of mine saw it on facebook, I looked into it and it made sense, plus it is so beautiful, we had to have it,” said Denise who purchased the clean energy source from a company in Australia.
The solar SmartFlower, is the first all-in-one, plug and play photovoltaic solar apparatus. The SmartFlower wakes up at sunrise, fans out its twelve solar “petals” to 194 square feet and automatically cleans itself in preparation for capturing the sun’s rays. It is aesthetically beautiful and unique, it takes up less space than traditional solar panels, it yields forty percent more output, and it fits in perfectly with the objective of the farm, which is to make the space more beautiful.
The large petals on the flower capture the sun’s energy and provide power to the barn, as well as the drying room, the gazebo and the shop, which is home to a myriad of specialty items, which were all brought to live through Denise’s creative spirit.
Harvested by hand, the lavender is used for scented soy candles, sachets in every shape and size, lip balm, deodorant, facial scrub, culinary lavender to be used in cooking, all natural insect repellent, air freshener, pet shampoo, hand sanitizer, shaving foam, teas, scone mixes, shower gel, hydrosol floral water and Denise’s famous lavender and honey infused lemonade.
“I came up with this recipe so it’s not too sweet, just very refreshing,” explained Denise. The summer drink used to be sold under a tent, next to the shop, by her two sons during the summer months, however, because it was so popular, Denise had to scale her secret recipe to accommodate 400 servings so the lemonade could be mass produced and sent back to the farm for sale.
Keeping with the mantra that is attached to lavender; being a beckon of relaxation and stress release, in addition to everything offered at this unique enclave, Lavender Pond Farm also is home to Saturday morning yoga classes. The last session had over 73 people in attendance, seeking solace in the serene landscape, breathing peacefully amongst the swaying sea of shades of purple plants.
Growing all the time, the farm also has an electric train that can seat up to 16 people, which travels around the property. The white and purple train is manned on most days by Chris, and the informational tour is given by Denise’s fourteen year old son. In addition, the farm just added a bistro to the mix, partnering with Cloud Nine catering for lunch items (which include lavender cookies) that are available on the weekends.
“My goal was to create a place where people could come to relax and enjoy nature,” said Denise who has turned her dream into a reality. “We are also opening a two bedroom bed and breakfast on the property soon and we are always looking to do more.”
And do more Denise does, in addition to be a loving mother, wife and hard working business owner, Denise gives back. Remembering the special times with her ailing mother Denise carries copies of the inspirational book “Miss Rumphius,” in her shop. It sells for $20 and she donates one hundred percent of the proceeds to Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.
So, if you are looking for a great place to bring family and friends while visiting Connecticut, or you just want to have a favorite outdoor spot to sit and reflect on life, look no further than Lavender Pond Farm. It is open from just before Mother’s Day each year, until Christmas Eve.
And, if you can’t make it to the farm you can also purchase the Lavender Pond Farm specialty items online by visiting www.lavenderpondfarm.com.