Siblings keep the family farm alive with a new cash crop.
Growing up, Mit Abbott and her brother Mark Weaver heard lots of stories about their family’s multi-generational farm. “My dad, he always had a lot of pride in family heritage,” Abbott says. “We have a wooden trunk filled with old family pictures. He loved going through those and telling stories about them. And his parents did the same thing for him.”
The family has lived in the farm’s 1850s house—built in 90 days for $90, with 18-inch cut stones for walls—for eight generations. The road that runs alongside, Lanham Lane, is named for the family. “There are still some cuts into the wood where our ancestors barricaded the door shut when Civil War soldiers were marching up the road,” Abbott says. “If you look at the wood floors, you can still see the hand-forged nails.”
Abbott and Weaver’s father, who passed away three years ago at the age of 67, had hoped to retire and carry on the family tradition of farming. “That was his life dream, and he didn’t really get to fulfill that,” she says.
So Abbott, Weaver, and their spouses took up that dream and have found a way to keep the family tradition alive with a new crop. Last summer, Weaver read an article about lavender being grown on abandoned mine properties. “We started doing a lot of research,” Abbott says.
She and Weaver purchased lavender plants and began testing the crop in their soil.
“We have a lot of sandstone in our fields, and one of the things that lavender thrives on is really good drainage,” she says. “For us, it becomes a blessing that we do have that much rock in the fields. That allows for the drainage and the plants to thrive better.”
Stone House Lavender now sells its fragrant crop in bundles and wreaths as well as in a variety of products including scrubs, lotions, bath melts, oils, soaps, and more. “Lavender is known for so many calming properties,” Abbott says. “Anything from being an anti-inflammatory to being relaxing. It has some of those aromatherapy characteristics.”
In the fall, the family will open a storefront in the farm’s spring house. They eventually plan to open the farm up as a venue for weddings and events.
New tradition brought life to an old family farm. “Our children already say, ‘One day we’ll get to do the lavender farm,’” Abbot says. “They already look forward to that. It’s something we can hand down to the next generation.”