When the Whiteman family moved from inner city Melbourne to rural Chintin in the Macedon Ranges in 2018, they had no plans to become leaders in the lavender oil industry.
With a desire to create a sustainable, mixed farming enterprise, Stuart and Sonia set about planting 12,000 plus lavender plants at Chin Chin Farm with the intention to not only provide a food source for their seven beehives, and to complement the growing herd of Aussie White sheep, but to produce food-grade lavender oil as a supplementary source of income.
Fast forward only two years and the Whitemans attended their first Lavender Growers Association Conference held recently in Hahndorf, South Australia. To their delight and surprise their lavender oil took out the prestigious Rosemary Holmes Award for their Lavender Angustifolia Essential Oil.
“To be recognised so early in our journey is truly humbling, and to be awarded this honour named after one of the stalwarts of the industry is inspiring us to keep going,” Sonia said after receiving the award.
“It’s unusual to produce oil of this quality with such young plants, but we believe that it’s in the way we grow them.”
Rosemary Holmes is legendary in the lavender industry as an early adopter of commercial lavender growing and is a founding member of The Lavender Growers Association.
What’s next for the Whitemans?
“Our climate is perfect for Australian native bush foods, so we are working on a program to plant and harvest a variety of plants for both their oil and their leaves. Everything that we do on the farm is designed to complement. The sheep fertilise the soils and keep the grass down, the bees pollinate the plants and the plantings regenerate the soil structures.”