FORT ANN — A Fort Ann lavender farm is “Planting Purple and Harvesting Green,” said co-owner Diane Allen about their five-year success.
“In 2015, we sold lavender Christmas wreaths, we brought in $1,500,” she said. “And this past year our gross revenue was $330,868.”
In February, during SUNY Adirondack’s inaugural Business Plan Competition, Diane and David Allen were awarded first place and $5,000 with their “Planting Purple, Harvesting Green” business plan pitch.
Open to students and the community, the competition was designed to get a local business off the ground or move forward. A three-judge panel scored competitors for their product or service, competitive advantage, management capability, financial understanding, venture maturity, concept viability and the clarity of their “Pitch Presentation.”
Diane Allen said winning the competition is also a win for the community because it will create more local jobs and brings more tourism and tax dollars to the area.
Last year, Lavenlair Farm paid nearly $22,000 in county taxes.
According to Washington County Director of Economic Development Laura Oswald, Lavenlair Farm represents an exemplary case study of an agritourism destination attracting visitors from across state lines.
“The remote, rural location was considered by most to be a hindrance to the development of a farming operation that would generate sales and draw visitors into the area, but the Allens did their homework. … Hard work, persistence and an amazing savviness for marketing have paid off in their first few years of operation,” Oswald said in recent support of the farm. “Diane’s extensive marketing background and Dave’s financial experience, combined with ebullient personalities and a strong sense of community have created an exceptional product line, and attracted an astounding number of visitors to the farm.”
Argyle Cheese Factory took second place in the February competition. Both Washington County farms are alumni of the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corp.’s Farm and Food Accelerator program, and Diane Allen said the experience led to this win.
The Allens sell 32 varieties of lavender, producing a wide range of lavender bath and body products and lavender honey.
And they are hoping this award, along with other grants they are seeking, will allow them restore an 1807 schoolhouse building on the farm.
As part of the restoration, the Allens will create an onsite commercial kitchen and manufacturing facility with a Plexiglas wall for visitors to watch products being made.
Additionally, Diane said they will create a gallery of historic photos and stories from students who attended the school.
“The gallery will contain artifacts related to the schoolhouse along with photos and stories from the 90-plus-year-old members of the community who attended the school as children,” she said. “Preserving the historical memories for generations to come.”
Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli covers Washington County government and other county news and events.