Lavender Field of Dreams
When Trish Dennis’s husband, Greg, suggested they drop everything and start a lavender farm, she was less than thrilled. “I thought he was crazy,” she said. Trish had previously served as a captain in the United States Air Force and was in her second decade of working as a corporate attorney. But Greg had done some research into agritourism and was convinced a lavender farm would be a draw. Quoting a line from one of their favorite movies, the 1989 classic “Field of Dreams,” Greg told Trish “If we build it, they will come.” And come they did.
Two years later, in 2015, Trish quit her job and Indigo Lavender Farms was born. In its first three years, the farm grew from 4,000 lavender plants to 14,000 plants on 26 acres of land. The business has now become a destination for visitors not just from Michigan, but around the world, and can bring in a few hundred people on a busy summer day. Visitors are drawn to the purple fields and fresh country air. They come to picnic, tour, and pick flowers. The farm also offers special events and private photo sessions among the gorgeous rows of blooming lavender.
When they started Indigo Lavender Farms, Trish was focused on the farming aspect – not on the lavender fields as a tourist destination. But the beautiful rows of lush purple plants caught people’s attention. “It was almost like they were going to come in no matter what,” Trish said.
Once they opened the farm to the public, they added a store, and selling products made from the lavender became their main business. They now sell bath and body products, candles, diffuser oils, baked goods, and tea, all made from the lavender plants grown onsite. The farm also has honeybee hives that source 65 gallons of honey a season, and honey and wax from the hives is used in some of their products. Indigo Lavender Farms products are available on their website, Amazon and Etsy, and a few local retailers.
Like many outdoor destinations in Michigan, Indigo Lavender Farms did better than expected during the pandemic-hit summer months. “We offered a safe place for people to come and get out of the house,” Trish said. “We weren’t sure we were going to open when lockdowns first took hold. But we did open and were very pleasantly surprised.” Trish and Greg are planning on a successful season in 2021 and have ambitious goals for the future. They plan to expand the farm to 50 acres and add more types of flowers, such as tulips, daffodils, sunflowers, and chrysanthemums, so the farm will have flowers blooming spring through fall.
Trish believes in naturally sustainable farming and works to use best practices for the lavender and honeybees. All Indigo Lavender Farms’ plants are grown without pesticides or other chemicals, and the business has plans to add a rainwater collection system, install a windmill of their own, and make natural fertilizer by composting teas.
This January, the farm enrolled in DTE Energy’s MIGreenPower program, which allows customers to attribute their energy use to Michigan wind and solar projects. “All the things we’re doing now are great for our own private use and sustainability, and we pride ourselves on that,” said Dennis. “But we also want to be a part of a bigger project, a bigger story. MIGreenPower allows us to contribute toward the development of new clean energy projects in Michigan – some of which are really close to home for us.”
MIGreenPower funds the development of DTE’s renewable energy projects, some of which can be seen close to Indigo Lavender Farms, located in Imlay City. To the north is Pinnebog Wind Park, and to the west is Lapeer Solar Park, which boasts 200,000 solar panels sitting on 250 acres. Both projects received funding from MIGreenPower. Customers who sign up for the program can feel good about helping put more clean energy on the grid and reducing their carbon footprint. For businesses like Indigo Lavender Farms, MIGreenPower provides a simple and affordable way to meet their sustainability goals and help combat climate change on a larger scale.