Meet the Farm Girl
Interview by Pam Baker of Little Lavender Farm:
Ramona Krueger's Sunderland Acres Lavender Farm is an oasis in the middle of the city. One minute you are surrounded by industry and the next minute, you turn a corner and there it is, a beautiful, peaceful retreat. Ramona is a fairly new lavender farmer, and has so many wonderful plans for her farm, from a "moonlight garden" to a little shop. And she is kept company by her two resident donkeys, who make sure visitors know that they need some attention too! It will be fun to watch this sweet little farm grow!
How long have you been growing lavender?
I planted my first 900 L. angustifolia Hidcote plants in July 2017 and added 250 L. x intermedia Grosso plants in October 2018.
What led you to be a lavender farmer?
We moved from a loft in NW Portland to our current home with 2.5 acres in March 2013. We did a full remodel on the house and then I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the Fall of 2013. After chemo and 4 surgeries and a few years of recovery, I decided to utilize our acreage with a crop that would 1) be beautiful, 2) be helpful to our dwindling bee populations, and 3) be healing for my soul. A lavender field was the result.
How did you come up with the name of your farm?
When we remodeled our home, we found the original blueprints which identified the area where our house was as "Sunderland." So in honor of our property and neighborhood we decided that Sunderland Acres was a very appropriate name.
What did you do before you were a lavender farmer?
I had my own interior decorating business Crimson 9 established in 2003. I am not currently taking new clients for my decorating business but still take care of the needs of some of my existing clientele. I do think that my years in the design field has helped me to have vision for both my lavender farm now and also for future projects, such as a small farm store and a large shop for equipment.
What is your favorite lavender variety? Why?
Hidcote Blue is my favorite. The deep purple color is just so gorgeous and the smell is intoxicating.
Favorite use for lavender?
My favorite use for lavender is culinary because I love to cook and bake, and I believe that food brings people together.
What's your best Lavender farming tip?
Take lavender farming one row at a time. Don't get overwhelmed by all of the weeds and hard work. Don't be afraid of getting your hands dirty and just be brave and go after your dreams. Look at me! I'm turning 50 this year, survived cancer, and am going for it! As John Wayne said: "Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway."
Who helps you with your lavender farming?
Just little old me. (cue fluttering eyelashes)
Do you grow anything in addition to lavender?
I grow rosemary that I would like to eventually add into some of my products. I am also creating a moonlight garden, planted with white or silvery plants that glow after dark. And I also have a mini flowering plum orchard, which has fruit that we won't eat but that is good for the birds and has blossoms that are good for the bees. We also have our donkey mascots Jack and Emily, our resident miniature donkeys.
What is your favorite lavender recipe?
Lavender London Fog. (Visit our Facebook page for the recipe!)
Favorite quote about gardening?
"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow" -- Audrey Hepburn