WORDS & PHOTOS BY CHRIS TIESSEN
When Lee Anne Downey moved with her family to a gorgeous ninety-three acre farm in Erin back in 2017, she had a singular mission in mind – to put lavender in the ground for a future business endeavour. ‘I actually held lavender planting parties back then,’ Lee Anne reminisces with a laugh while she and I chat in her farmhouse kitchen: ‘I gathered together anyone and everyone who’d help me.’ The result: an initial field of twenty-five hundred plants. An additional two thousand plants have since been nurtured.
‘With these plants,’ Lee Anne announces with pride, ‘I launched my lavender business, Stonewell Farm, in 2019.’ Taking into account the profuse field of lavender just outside the kitchen window, I’d say the enterprise is in full bloom. ‘We make a wide range of products with our lavender,’ Lee Anne tells me, ‘including everything from body butters and lip balms to herbal teas and soaps.’ Lee Anne’s even got lavender sugar scrubs and lavender shortbread cookies – all available at the charming on-site farm store (open Tuesday thru Friday 9am-4pm). And (mostly) all made at the farm.
There’s more: Lee Anne makes the farm available for artist workshops, photography sessions, and evening yoga in the lavender fields. ‘There’s something magical about practising yoga in the lavender,’ she reflects, invoking local wildlife: ‘bees buzzing nearby and coyotes howling further afield.’ And there’s even an Airbnb on the property. Peaceful. Tranquil. Perfect.
Like so many other remarkable farms and food businesses that dot Guelph and Wellington County, Stonewell Farm is a partner of Taste Real – a County of Wellington program that promotes local food and facilitates valuable connections among food businesses, consumers, craftspeople, and farmers alike. That includes lavender doyens (and all-round entrepreneurial gurus) like Lee Anne. Learn more at stonewellfarm.ca and tastereal.ca