Out on East 82, past many ranches, cattle and horses, you will find a dirt road that leads to small oasis of garden delights and more than a few pleasant surprises. Most locals know Lavender Ridge Farm by word of mouth and come to celebrate the Lavender Festival they hold each year on Memorial Day weekend. The festival usually has up to 50 vendors with a wide variety of goods to sell near the lavender fields. This year they had to cancel the festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped the farm for going forth in full bloom.

“COVID-19 set us back at first, but we make our own hand sanitizer and our online sales of that, and our many handmade products, kept us going until we could open to the public in May,” said owner Jane Ware. “Usually we open at the beginning of April for the year. We have made the necessary adjustments to the farm to keep visitors and ourselves as safe as possible.”

Lavender Ridge Farm in Gainesville, Texas, has been in the Ware family for more than 160 years. In the 1920s and 30s, their great-grandfather grew strawberries and melons, but in the 50s moved his family to Ft. Worth and leased the land out for cattle. In 2005, siblings Jane and Jerry Ware became tired of the city life in Ft. Worth and sought to reclaim their roots in nature. They decided to cut ties, sold and moved to their family farm in Gainesville. In 2006 they opened Lavender Ridge Farms as a cut-your-own-lavender operation.

“We sold everything and dove right into farming lavender,” Ware said. “From there we started making all of our own products and added a café to round out the total experience you receive when visiting our farm.”

The lavender starts to bloom around the end of May and will continue through mid-July. They remain open until December with attractions such as their beautiful gardens with butterfly stations that are adorned with unique garden sculptures, a plant nursery, gift shop, café and animals such as exotic birds and lemurs.

The café may be the main attraction, with lines going out the door on the weekends, but people are more than happy to wait. Menu favorites include the lavender honey chicken, lavender cheesecake, lavender lemonade and of course, their lavender ice cream topped with lavender honey.

“I think our place is a hidden gem for all people of all ages to enjoy,” Ware said. “Most of our visitors come from the metroplex. We make a great day trip for all to experience lavender— from seeing it and cutting it, (to) smelling it and tasting it. We encourage everyone to visit and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us.”

Lavender Ridge Farms is located at 2391 County Road 178, Gainesville, TX, 76240 and are open Friday through Sunday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. For more infomation, call 940-665-6938, visit their online store at www.lavenderridgefarms.com, or visit them on Facebook @lavenderridgefarms and Instagram @lavenderridge.