HARWICH – To find a little bit of local magic, look no further than the Cape Cod Lavender Farm. Located off a winding dirt road, the farm is home to a fragrant field of lavender plants, an enchanted fairy garden, and walking trails.
Cynthia Sutphin started the farm on her own property 23 years ago, and it has since continued to grow and evolve – the farm now sees between 10,000 and 12,000 visitors each summer. Peak harvest time is from mid-June to mid-July, when the buds begin to open.
“I wanted to grow something that nobody else was growing at the time, and so we started with lavender,” she said. “That was back in the days when lavender was not quite so popular… it's made a comeback in the past 15 years.”
Sutphin grows seven different varieties of lavender on the farm, which vary in height and color. When harvested, the lavender is sold in fresh bunches or distilled into oil on-site. It has many uses, from beauty products to food products. Lavender is also a natural remedy for headaches and insomnia.
“[Lavender] appeals to all the senses: sight, sound (with the bees and whatnot), taste, touch, smell,” Sutphin said. “I think the most versatile plant on earth. I'm partial, but when you think about it, there aren't a whole lot of other herbs that cover all the bases the way lavender does.”
The lavender only blooms once a year, and harvest time lasts three weeks. The farm is open all year, seven days a week until Columbus day, and weekends until Christmas.
The farm’s shop sells over two dozen lavender products, including face toner, candles, marmalade, and fresh bunches of lavender. These products are made locally – the marmalade is by the Cape Cod Cranberry Harvest, and a couple in Brewster make the soaps – which makes the farm a great way of supporting the community of local businesses.
Sutphin has made lavender her job, but the love and passion for what she does is evident. Her four children – and now grandchildren – grew up working on the farm, which she says makes it “even more special.”
“It's a really fun lifestyle that not many people have the opportunity to have: to live and do what you love in the same place, and have your kids and your grandchildren enjoy it,” she said. “This time of year is what we look forward to all winter.”
The farm has a handful of seasonal workers who help with the harvest. Charlotte Marshall, a student from Kenyon College, helps pick and cut the lavender and works in the shop. She grew up coming to the farm, but this is her first year working there.
“I'd been working in a sandwich shop for four years, so I was looking for a bit of a change of pace,” Marshall said. “It's really relaxing. It's just cathartic to be out there [harvesting] for an hour or two and just not really [having] to think about anything.”
The farm is surrounded by almost a hundred acres of conservation owned by the Harwich Conservation Trust. Visitors can explore mossy walking trails in a tranquil forest that feels untouched by time, or wander through “Uncle Eddie’s Fairy Garden,” where it seems entirely possible that leaf-beds and a wooden castle could be built by magic.
A hidden-away gem, the Cape Cod Lavender Farm is a perfect getaway, mostly due to the care and love of its owners.
“It's a love of everything,” Sutphin said. “I pinch myself because I love what I do. If I were to retire and do something, it would be this.”