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Originally published Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Lavender tour on Vashon Island leads round of festivals

Vashon Island's Lavender Farm Tour this weekend kicks off a spate of lavender events around Western Washington.

Special to The Seattle Times

If You Go

Vashon Island Lavender Farm Tour

The Vashon tour is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The farms on the tour include:

• Lavender Hill Farm, 10425 S.W. 238th St.; 206-463-2322 or www.lavenderhillvashon.com.

• Fox Farm, 17232 107th Ave. S.W.; 206-954-6310 or www.foxfarm.org.

• Lavender Sisters Farm, 16335 Crescent Drive S.W.; 206-463-4323 or www.thelavendersisters.net.

Vashon Island Lavender Growers Association hosts the annual event. More information: www.vashonlavender.com or 206-954-6310.

Getting there

Take Washington State Ferries (888-808-7977 or www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries) from Fauntleroy (West Seattle) to Vashon's north end; or from Tacoma's Point Defiance to Vashon's Tahlequah south landing. Drivers and cyclists should follow tour directional signs. Off-street parking at Lavender Sisters and Fox Farm; on-street parking at Lavender Hill.

Free shuttle buses will meet ferries at both terminals beginning at 9:15 a.m. Shuttles will stop at the farms and downtown Vashon — a great place to explore island book stores, gift shops and restaurants. Last north-end shuttle meets the 5:35 p.m. ferry and last south-end shuttle meets the 5:55 p.m. ferry.

Cost

A $5 ticket allows access to all farms both days. Children under 18 admitted free.

More lavender festivals

Marysville's Lavender Hills Farm lavender festival, Saturday, 10 a.m. — 5 p.m. Free admission. Parking $1. Live music, U-cut flowers, demonstrations, 30 arts and crafts vendors. 7508 108th St. N.E., Marysville; 360-651-2086 or www.lavenderhillsfarm.com.

Sequim Lavender Festival on the Olympic Peninsula, July 17-19. Now in its 13th year, this is considered the largest lavender event in North America. A free shuttle bus will link the seven farms on the tour to a downtown street fair with more than 150 lavender and craft booths, a food court, wine and beer garden and live music.

Admission: Adults, $15 for entry to all farms all three days. Children 12 and younger free. Free parking downtown and at all farms. Free shuttle with admission ticket. Festival information: 877-681-3035 or www.lavenderfestival.com.

San Juan Island hosts Lavender Festival at Pelindaba Lavender Farm, July 18-19, 10 a.m. — 5 p.m. Guided tours of the fields, drying barn, distillery and production facility, workshops and demonstration and lavender-based food and drinks. Free admission. Parking available. 33 Hawthorne Lane, San Juan Island; 360-378-4248 or www.pelindabalavender.com.

Whidbey Island's Lavender & Wind Festival at Lavender Wind Farm Aug. 8-9, 10 a.m. — 5 p.m. A fundraiser for Washington State University, the event will feature lavender goods for sale, food vendors, art booths, a wine tent and live music. Admission and parking free. 2530 Darst Road, Coupeville, Island County; 877-242-7716 or www.lavenderwind.com.

VASHON ISLAND — The morning sun intensified the field's aroma as we made our way through a silver-green sea of bushes, their pungent purple blossoms not fully awake to the season at the Lavender Sisters Farm overlooking Puget Sound's Colvos Passage. One of the farm's pampered cats played hide-and-seek among the plants as my friend Ellen wrapped her arms around a plant, inhaling deeply of its natural aromatherapy.

A 20-minute ferry ride from West Seattle and a short drive across the island had brought us to this laid-back rural setting. The serenity of this late June day was nothing at all like the festival atmosphere in store for the area during Vashon Island's annual Lavender Farm Tour, happening Saturday and Sunday.

Over the weekend a lavender-crazed purple haze will envelop the small (13-miles-long and eight-miles-wide) island when Lavender Hill Farm, in Burton to the south; Fox Farm, near the Vashon town center, and the Lavender Sisters Farm to the northwest, open to the public for two days of harvest celebration.

Each of the three farms — distinctly different in size and setting — seems as if taken from a storybook. Cutting gardens, garden art and landscaped grounds frame undulating rows of lavender. Plants should be in full pastel and deep-purple bloom for the harvest.

"We are really emphasizing the agricultural part of it," said Katy Jo Steward, one of a trio of women who make up the Lavender Sisters business partnership. "Farming is such a basic experience and people are so far removed from it, we find that they just enjoy the experience of being on the farm."

While visitors are invited to kick back and relax on the farms, with all the tours, U-cut activities, craft and cooking demonstrations, speakers, music and children's activities scheduled at each stop, most will find themselves as busy as the bees buzzing the lavender blooms.

Vendors, with a focus on all things lavender, will offer food and drink and offer herbal and plant-based products ranging from lotions and potions to soaps and sachets.

Jackie Smith is a Kirkland-based freelance writer.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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