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November 23, 2004 > Season's Greetings from the Lavender Friends

Season's Greetings from the Lavender Friends

by Susana Nuñez

What started out as a fun pastime among friends, has turned into an annual tradition for the community to enjoy. Lavender Friends, created by Mary Hernandez and Gael Stewart, offers a wonderful selection of lavender sachets, jars, and wands. During this holiday season, they make for excellent décor and cherished gifts!

The idea of forming a group dedicated to the harvesting and arranging of lavender sparked from a simple comment Gael Stewart made about her friend Mary Hernandez's own lavender bushes a few years ago. As Gael admired the blossoming flowers, she mentioned how fun it would be to learn how to harvest the lavender. They decided to follow through with this idea and get some of their friends in on the action as well. That June, the group harvested their first "batch" of lavender. They decided to make it an annual project; when the lavender was ready for harvest, the group of "lavender friends" would gather and enjoy an evening together working on their project.

The process by which the group designs their sachets begins with the cutting of lavender stalks from bushes. They then bind them at one end and hang them upside down for about 10 days. Afterward, they "shuck," or remove, the flowers off of the dried stalks. They are later sifted for excess greenery, strained, put in sachets and dried. Hernandez comments, "That's the technical part of the adventure...what we discovered was that it was a chance for our 'friends,' thus the Lavender Friends, to get together, share a potluck dinner, a glass of wine and then harvest, bind, shuck or fill our lavender sachet bags." From early June through mid July, the group holds Friday night meetings to work side by side and enjoy the summer evenings together. With 10-15 members, there are always plenty of hands to help. The ribbon, sachet bags, and miscellaneous supplies are provided by member contributions, so their sales provide 100 percent to the pantry where they donate their proceeds.

When the sachets are ready, they are displayed in Gael Stewart's coffee shop, Mission Coffee Roasting. All of the proceeds go to Sister John Marie's Pantry, which helps provide for those with needs in the Tri-City community. Last year, Lavender Friends raised over $1,000 for the pantry from their "simple evenings as friends," states Hernandez. Also, the group had the lavender out for Valentine's Day, Easter, and Mother's Day of last year, with each sale being a success. The lavender sachets, jars, and wands are great gifts for birthdays, bridal showers, and holidays. "Many words have been used to describe the fragrance of lavender; aromatic, nostalgic, romantic, soothing, healing! The fragrance is homegrown, locally harvested, and enjoyed in our sachet bags, jars and wands," states Hernandez. These delicate "homegrown" creations can only be found at Mission Coffee Roasting at 151 Washington Boulevard. They will be available until supplies last, so hurry in and start off the holiday season right with a Lavender Friends classic!

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