Lavender Fields Forever

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A renowned San Juan Islands herb farm opens its first Oregon boutique in the Pearl District.

Strolling past the smart shops and inviting restaurants along NW 12th Avenue, you may suddenly find yourself drawn to the soothing, unmistakable aroma of lavender emanating from the bouquets and vials of Pelindaba Lavender (424 NW 12th Ave, 503-222-0072, pelindabalavender.com), the Washington farm’s first retail operation in Oregon. The name “pelindaba,” a Zulu word meaning “place of great gatherings,” is an homage to owner and founder Stephen Robins’s South African heritage. Inside this cozy shop, you’ll discover an impressively diverse abundance of lavender-based products. The gently serene ambience and the opportunity to sample complimentary lavender green tea make for a soothing shopping experience.

Pelindaba’s lavender farm enjoys a picturesque, pastoral setting on idyllic San Juan Island, just north of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Even as their retail operations have begun to expand beyond the region, their locally sustainable agriculture remains true to the farm’s core philosophy: a firm commitment to the ecological, economic, and cultural wellbeing of the San Juan Island community. The organically certified fields include their own production center, and an on-site distillery that extracts the flowers’ essential oils and employs island-based artisans to produce their specialty products.

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“The San Juan farm has a large number of visitors from Portland,” says store manager Kalina Jazuk. “Many of them over the years have requested that we open a shop in town.” The new Portland shop, which opened last May, carries all sorts of fragrant and delicious lavender-based goods, including culinary (honey, shortbread cookies), therapeutic (eye pillows), and home and personal care (household cleanser, facial toner) products. You’ll even find accessories for your pets, your car, and other surprising items. One of the top sellers, the lavender essential oil, “is the base for all the other products—it’s where they all get their wonderful properties,” says Jazuk.

The San Juan Island farm is well worth a visit, especially in summer. You can wander leisurely through the beautifully designed demonstration garden, attend a lavender craft workshop in the visitor center, and end your tour with a dish of mouthwatering house-made lavender ice cream while sitting on a picnic bench overlooking the colorful gardens. –Fernando Nocedal

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