In 1989, D. Gary Young started Young Living Essential Oils by cultivating a small garden in Spokane, Washington. From the beginning, Gary knew that the secret of high-quality oils is healthy plants. To ensure that the plants were of the highest quality, Gary believed it was necessary to grow some of his own. Through the years, the crops and sizes of farms have changed, yet Gary's concept of superior products through proper farming practices remains solid. This philosophy is still a standard for all three Young Living Lavender Farms (located in Mona, Utah; St. Maries, Idaho; and Simiane-La-Rotonde, France).
“Quality plant nutrition is the key to growing good lavender,” says K.C. Abney, herb farmer at the Young Living Lavender Farm in Mona. “Just as a good diet is valuable for people, nutrition is equally important for plants. By taking pH samples of our lavender, we are able to determine what nutrients may be missing in the soil. We then add whatever the plant needs. This procedure improves the health of the plant, and, from healthy plants, we obtain higher quality and greater quantities of essential oils.”
K.C. started his work on the Young Living Lavender Farm about five years ago. With a bachelor of science degree in botany, K.C. understands plant physiology and anatomy, and he knows what nutrients are needed to make a plant healthy.
“When our focus on the farm shifted to growing lavender as the main crop, I was very excited,” stated K.C. Although I have a strong understanding of growing herbs from my master gardener training, I started reading a number of lavender books to get a greater knowledge of the nutritional needs of lavender. I also gleaned a lot of information from working with Gary.
“This is the farm's fourth year of growing lavender (as of 2006), taking it from seed to bottle. I love the challenge of growing lavender. You have to start with good seed. Lavender seed requires a stratification process-a freeze cycle. Then when the new seedlings push their heads through the surface of the potting soil, they need a transition period in the green house. There is much more to growing lavender than one would think.”
Tiffany Covington, another Young Living farmer, has a bachelor of science degree in agronomy. “I chose to study agronomy because I wanted to save the world. I started out in nutrition and learned a lot about diseases caused by a lack of certain nutrients. But I wasn't getting very many solutions. I felt that by studying how to grow food, I could help people improve their own nutritional intake.”
Tiffany grows much of the produce used in the Farm Fresh Grill, the restaurant located on the Young Living Lavender Farm in Mona. “While at school, I learned about large scale chemical farming practices, but I also learned a lot of organic techniques. Young Living chose the organic approach for the food grown on the farm. But I would like to make a distinction between organic and high nutrition-they are not always synonymous. Some plants grown in organic soil are still low in nutrition. I choose to focus on the nutritive quality of our organically grown fruits and vegetables.”
When asked separately what advice they had for people considering farming, K.C. and Tiffany gave similar replies: “Farming is hard but is very rewarding. Farming is a labor of love. Farm if you love it.” These dedicated individuals have a great love for the farm and work to grow the highest-quality plants possible. This love and dedication can't help but spill over into the superior products grown there.
Reprinted with permission of Young Living, Lehi, UT 84043