Mumballup farmers' purple vision

24 Sep, 2003 10:00 PM
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MUMBALLUP farmers Bob and Jenny Greig are creating a vast sea of lavender on their hilly salt-affected land.

The Greigs cultivate 10,000 plants on 2.4ha and are expanding to a 150ac broadacre lavender farm.

The majority of their 60.7ha currently supports beef cattle.

Mr Greig said the undulating terrain south of Collie could not support traditional agriculture indefinitely.

"Grazing stock is not a good thing to do as it's very hilly, they eat the ground bare and when the opening rains come we get a lot of erosion," he said.

"We considered things that other people in the area were doing, like olives or wine, but eventually decided on lavender.

"We needed a perennial crop, there is a fair bit of salt-affected land around this area."

The crop is harvested around December and produces oil for aromatherapy and perfume.

The Greigs market several products under the name Namastey Lavender.

Lavender is fully established after three years and lasts about 15 years. Its major advantage is that it requires very little water to flourish.

The Greigs began harvesting with a sickle but have now modified a machine for the purpose.

Mr Greig said lavender could act as a sideline business, but with economies of scale, the bigger operations provided the real profits.

While propagation was difficult and oil yields low, the potential for tourism was huge.

"We think it (the lavender farm) will create an amazing spectacle and quite a tourist destination," he said.

"It's already quite a picturesque area with the rolling hills."

He said a 48.6ha lavender farm in Tasmania was the biggest in the world and a major stop for travellers.

When fully established, the Namestey Lavender farm would be larger than that operation and feature an open distillery and processing area with shop and dining area.

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