WARNER — A Warner farm has been awarded $250,000 in federal grant money to start a new line of lavender-infused food and beverages.
As a part of the match grant, Pumpkin Blossom Farm will also contribute $250,000 to the half-a-million-dollar project. Farm owner Missy Biagiotti said more than half of the money will go toward creating six new jobs.
The farm already uses lavender to make soaps and lotion, but the grant money will allow Biagiotti to start making food products as well, specifically lavender beverage mixers for cocktails and mocktails. Biagiotti’s plan is to place those products on grocery store shelves, where they can reach more consumers than they would at farmers markets.
Out of $76 million available to farmers across the country as a part of the rural development grant, only $564,000 was awarded to farmers in New Hampshire.
“Other states take away quite a bit of resources, but we still are sort of struggling to bring money into the state through that program,” Biagiotti said.
Lavender isn’t a traditional New Hampshire crop, but Biagiotti said the direction Pumpkin Blossom Farm is taking through value-added products may be a way forward for larger farms that are struggling financially.
The idea for the farm was set in motion after Biagiotti’s sister was diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and the family visited a healing garden in Boston. In 2018, the family purchased and planted the lavender plants, which take three years to fully mature. In 2020, the farm started inviting people to the property to pick their own lavender.
“We have to choose which variety of lavender that we grow pretty carefully,” Biagiotti said. “We really have to be aware of what we’re capable of handling here in terms of weather.”
Biagiotti said she learned a lot from a lavender farm in Maine before getting her own operation underway and chose three varieties of lavender that can withstand the cold New Hampshire winters.
A lavender plant’s lifespan can be anywhere from 12 to 15 years, and the farm now has about 6,000 plants growing on two acres, making Pumpkin Blossom Farm one of the largest lavender growers in New England.