Serena Pelletier is decked in purple from head to toe while she tends to the plants in her front yard, from the waves of lavender in her hair, to her violet-hued earrings, clothing and gardening sandals.
Adirondack chairs painted in purple sit adjacent to the dozen-plus plots of lavender that line the grounds Pelletier and husband Chris Dickerman purchased in 2017. It’s a purple paradise for Pelletier, a master gardener who has devoted many years to all things lavender.
“And purple’s not even my favorite color, but it’s OK,” said Pelletier, who acknowledged it just might be the most important color in her life as she owns and operates Serene Lavender Farm.
Pelletier and Dickerman bought 4.5 acres on Emerald Lane in Eldersburg, and Pelletier devotes one of those acres to about 1,000 English and French lavender plants. She features 14 different kinds of the sweet-smelling plant, which has been known for centuries as medicinal and beneficial for one’s health and wellness.
Pelletier and her family moved across town last summer, after having a larger lavender farm at their previous home on Cherry Tree Lane. The land along Emerald Lane was flatter and more conducive to planting, she said. Pelletier said the family wasn’t planning to move until son Simon, now 19, and daughter Sophie, 17, were out of the house.
But the opportunity for a better farming space proved too good to pass up, she said. Her current crop of plants didn’t go into the ground until February, Pelletier said. Grids were designed and measured to ensure each plant had the proper space in which to thrive.
“This is my second job, but I love it,” said Pelletier, who works at Penguin Random House in Westminster. “It’s very therapeutic. People really enjoy it. First of all, it’s just a passion. I was a master gardener for a long time, and I just love to grow things. Some people like to play a guitar, for me it’s the lavender. It’s something I can share with people.”
Pelletier said the goal is to educate people on the beauty and sustainability of lavender. The open house events are set up as 90-minute sessions, she said, to better follow social distancing guidelines.
Serena Lavender Farm also features hive boxes for honey bees, and Pelletier said there will be discussions during the open house sessions about the benefits and connection between the insects and the plants.
Customers can pick their own lavender, and Pelletier said pre-cut bunches will be available. She’s also planning to have tours of the grounds, along with showcasing some culinary lavender items for sale. Patrons are encouraged to take pictures, relax and enjoy the surroundings.
Her products are also sold at many of the county’s farmers markets, craft shows, gift shops and other special events.
“Lavender is kind of like [the] Swiss army knife of plants,” she said. “The essential oil makes you calm and it’s also anti-bacterial. It smells good, keeps bugs away. All of the different products that I make with the lavender, I don’t waste anything. It all goes to something.”
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Pelletier said she’s donating 25% of the ticket sales from the open houses to the Y of Central Maryland’s Send a Kid to Camp campaign. She’s on the Y’s community leadership board and said she holds the cause close to her heart.
A first round of tickets sold out quickly, Pelletier said, so she added more for the 90-minute sessions on June 13 and June 20.
“I just wanted a way to bring everybody here to show them the beauty of this,” she said.
The coronavirus pandemic made for some uncertainty regarding the farm being able to host open houses this year. But the state’s loosened guidelines that went into effect last week eased Pelletier’s mind.
“I’m really excited about it. I want people to enjoy it,” she said. “I’m trying to make it more of an event without having too many people here, being sensitive to all. It doesn’t mean anything to have something that you work so hard [on] and not have people enjoy.