A little purple flower is inspiring big dreams for a Montezuma County family that's starting a new farm from scratch. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Choice Building Supply Ace Hardware and TruWest Auto. I'm Wendy Graham Settle. Jeremy Bryant's great grandfather moved to Aztec, New Mexico, along the Animas River at the turn of the 20th century to grow apples. Now, Bryant and his wife, Aisha, and his mom, Susanne Bryant, of Pagosa Springs are carrying on the family farming legacy with a somewhat unusual crop, lavender. Last spring, the Bryants planted nearly 4,000 lavender bushes in hopes that the cash crop will help them grow their dream to establish a farm with orchards, animals, honeybees, and a place where visitors can enjoy the beautiful views of the Four Corners. They admit they have a lot of work ahead to turn a former hayfield into a productive farm, but their first crop of lavender was successful, and it seems, perfectly suited to the dry, Southwest Colorado climate.
This is a Mediterranean plant, and that's where it originated from, and so it's dry, it's windy, it's hot. It likes all that stuff. We have all that stuff here. The altitude, it's kind of interesting. The altitude makes a stronger oil. It just... It makes a stronger oil 'cause it has to deal with stress more, and, like with growing chilies, you want to stress 'em to get higher heat. Lavender, you want to stress it to get better quality oil.
Lavender has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians used it to embalm mummies, and through the ages, it has been used to treat inflammations, headaches, depression, pain, anxiety, and insomnia.
The conquistadors first brought lavender into the area because, when they would try to take their wool to market, the wool would get bugs in it. Well, they would layer lavender between the wool to keep the bugs out of it. So it gets rid of that. It's also anti-inflammatory, which is another thing, so putting it on an insect bite, an irritated skin, those types of things are good. There are definite calming effects, not only for humans. It's also calming for animals. Even the bees that were around us all summer long are just the most docile bees, and you can just gently wave them away from a plant as you harvest. So it's a very versatile and interesting plant, and we use it in a lot of ways. We have culinary lavender and we have aromatherapy lavender.
The Bryants planted four varieties of aromatic and culinary lavender on their land three miles north of Cortez. They make bath and body products with the aromatic varieties and teas and herb mixes with the culinary varieties. They're sold online and at local farmers markets under the label Sunrise Court Gardens, the name of Jeremy Bryant's first garden enterprise that he started in Aztec, New Mexico, right after college. With just one season of lavender cultivation under their belts, the Bryants are getting ready to expand this next spring. Plans are in the works to plant more lavender as well as fruit orchards, wildflower gardens, vegetables, and raise honeybees to produce, what else? Lavender honey.
I like to create environments, kind of like the "Field of Dreams" idea. If you build it, they will come. I'm an animal lover. As a kid, I had fish. I had rabbits and iguanas, and we had dogs, dogs now. I always just love to be around animals. And I realized that I don't need to have a lizard in a cage. 'Cause what life is in a cage, right? But if I create an environment that maybe brings in bugs, then I can bring in lizards, right? Or say you grow sunflowers. Well, birds love seeds, so they'll come. So if you create an environment, wildlife will come. You can learn more about the Bryants and purchase their lavender products online at losmiramonteslavenderfarm.com. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.