Janice and Keith Mileski are extending their lavender pick-your-own season to this weekend (June 29 and 30) because they have plenty of the crop to sell.
They closed out their festival season last weekend and were pleased with the crowds.
“Attendance has been growing each year and it is 40 percent higher this year,” said Janice Mileski. “Everyone said they enjoyed it.”
Signs for the lavender farm dot the Riner area, directing drivers to the couple’s brick home on a hill with a beautiful and expansive view.
The festival requires a cluster of tents where visitors find lavender-based body care products, plants and refreshments, including lavender cookies. There are lotions, salves and essential oils. Across the lawn, crafters and a food truck have space to park.
At both the festival and the pick-your-own events, guests can snip lavender (scissors provided) from huge, maze-like patches of lavender bushes. Build your own bouquet from one or several varieties—even white lavender–for just $5 dollars and they will wrap it in tissue, creating a bouquet fit for a bride.
Lavender products like essential oils, colognes and, surprisingly, insect repellant line the tables overseen by Keith Mileski. A chemistry background has helped him add variety to the product line. He also baked the lavender cookies.
“Lavender likes a Mediterranean climate, on the dry side,” said Janice Mileski. She said they water new plants once a week until they are established and “then no more.”
Their many lavender patches, equipped with ground cloths, are spread around the 13-acre property because deer don’t like the plant.
Several weeks ago, the family sponsored a “you pick” weekend. When Mileski saw that she still had lavender a-plenty after the festival, she decided to extend the pick-your-own option one more weekend, so the couple will welcome visitors from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
When they are not marketing their product on their spacious front lawn, the couple travels to craft fairs in Roanoke, Richmond, West Virginia and North Carolina. They have been selling at the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market since 2008.
“We needed to do something with this land,” said Janice Mileski. “We supplement our income with something we enjoy. We love the plant and all the products are healthy and good for our bodies.”
Their property is 14 acres on Union Valley Road. They have lived there since 2006, and there is no Mystic River.
“We just like the name,” Janice Mileski said with a laugh.