New Times: You are the first and largest distiller of lavender in SLO County?
Silva: We bought this 100-year-old farm 11 years ago and we’ve been transforming it into a lavender farm ever since. We have been distilling the oil for seven years.
New Times: How big is the farm?
Silva: We have just under five acres and 13,000 plants growing here and many more thousands growing all over the state, as well.
New Times: What are the benefits of lavender?
Silva: They call lavender the anti-herb. It’s anti-fungal, antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-pest. It’s the plants’ immunity, it’s in the hair and fiber of the plant, and its there to protect the plant. And we extract it to use it for the same purposes…it’s wonderful.
New Times: And it smells good?
Silva: Yes, it’s wonderful and it calms you down. It’s a great sleep aid.
New Times: Are you open all year? What can people do when they visit?
Silva: Yes, we are open every day of the year and it’s free. People learn a lot about lavender and we get a lot of lavender lovers here. And we get a lot of people who don’t know about it and want to learn more. They can talk to us, and walk through the fields, and sit among the lavender.
New Times: And you have ongoing art classes and concerts?
Silva: Yes, in addition we have monthly concerts and we have artists exhibiting…we love to celebrate the arts… In July we will have our Lavender Festival over two weekends. We also take part in Open Studios. And we have private events and culinary events as well—you can try lavender lemonade or cookies.
New Times: Wow. What’s the strangest use for lavender?
Silva: It was used as an antiseptic on the battlefields in WW I. it’s a natural flea repellant for pets and mosquito repellant for you.