At 73, Victoria Lavender owner Alan Mayfield thinks it’s finally time to retire. For years, his lavender farm has been open to the public, but as of September 2, it will be closed permanently to the public.
“Funnily enough, I find it more difficult to work 12-hour days, seven days a week,” said Mayfield. “I haven’t had a vacation in 10 years.”
To prepare, he is selling his plants and products at 25 per cent off starting on Flavour Trail Weekend (Fri. Aug. 18 at 10 a.m.). He is even removing his sign on the highway as well as his website.
However, Victoria Lavender won’t go away entirely. The shop on Beacon Ave. will remain open and the employees retained. Lavender is a perennial crop, with most processing done in the summer, so as long as his lavender grows, the shop will stay open.
As for the popular goat yoga program that has run for the past two summers, Mayfield has not made a final decision (that’s for next March or April) but he will continue it “if the demand is there.”
The farm raised 26 kids this year, and he said they have all now been committed or sold. The females are going to dairy herds due to the demand for goat milk and cheese, and the males will be farm pets on small family farms. He will keep his other animals on the farm as well, since they are his pets.
“It’s been one of the most amazing things of my life. If you’d have asked me two years ago, ‘Do I really think that otherwise sane people would come out to my farm, roll around in the goat paddock doing yoga and pay for the honour of doing that,” I would have said you were nuts, but it’s been amazingly popular.”
He said he’s had 2,500 participants over the past two years, with mainly younger participants but a few in their 80s.
Though the store is opening and he will still employ seasonal workers to harvest lavender, he says he intends to have a proper retirement and spend less time working in the field himself because his stamina is not what it used to be.
“It’s natural, it comes with age. I have to respect that. Sometimes my body says, ‘Why the hell are you doing this, Alan?’”
His vacation plans are not yet set in stone, but he does want to visit his family in England, whom he has not seen in 10 years.
Mayfield said he is grateful for the community’s support, which has “made this experience for me one of the most rewarding ones of my life.” He will spend more time along the Sidney seafront with his dogs.
“I’m not going to disappear, that’s for sure.”