September 30, 2016
Many of the products sold in Mim and Kevin Klawonn's gift shop are made with lavender grown at Country Lavender Farm, their farm near Hampton. However, the essential oils come from lavender from a different grower. It takes about 20 pounds of lavender to make 1 cup of essential oil, and the Klawonns don't have the capacity to produce such a large amount.
Mim and Kevin make all of the products they sell. Mim sews, blends, bakes, crafts, and designs and prints labels and marketing materials, and Kevin builds, grows and helps brainstorm new ideas.
OPEN TO VISITORS: The Klawonns originally planned to sell plants and products online and at craft shows, preferring to keep the farm and production side more private. However, as time went on, they discovered that farm visits and selling from their gift shop would become the most popular venue. This includes holding lavender-centered classes in a refurbished grain bin.
The Klawonns originally planned to sell plants and products online and at craft shows. They preferred to keep the farm and production side more private.
They had no idea that farm visits and selling from their gift shop would be the most popular venue. "People from town started asking, 'Can we come see it?'" Mim says.
"Then it was the local Extension office; then the Red Hat Ladies," Kevin says. "Then they ask, 'Could you serve us lavender lemonade and cookies?' So you throw your hands up and say, 'Everybody in!'"
This past year has reflected the 'everybody in' spirit. The Klawonns held lavender-centered classes all summer. The classes are housed in a refurbished grain bin that Kevin and his dad built in the 1970s. The bin is a clean space with electric lights, French doors, and Mim's quilts hanging brightly against the tin.
Mim capped the classes to about 18 people, and all of them have been full. Topics varied from wreath making to soap felting to a distilling demonstration.
They also hosted a day camp for students, which tested their substantial creative abilities. "Lavender is calming and relaxing – how do you explain 'calming and relaxing' to a kindergartener?" Mim says.
Their biggest event has been their lavender festival, which has seen anywhere from 200 to 600 visitors. They added a smaller grain bin for a concession stand this year. Most remarkably, they even held the festival the year a tornado destroyed their house and a 4-acre field of lavender.
Mim points at the deck that leads up to the grain bin's French doors.
"This is made from the rafters of our old house," she says. "It was a scoop-shovel-and-broom situation."
The couple's five children come home to help with the festival, but otherwise the couple manages the farm by themselves. Before the tornado took out the 4 acres east of their house, they had two employees, but now they grow and process the lavender themselves.
Along with the classroom bin and the concession bin, the third notable building is the gift shop, which is housed in the 100-year-old farmhouse where Kevin grew up.
"Kevin's mother loved what we did to her house," Mim says.
"First festival she came out and sat in a chair by the door," Kevin says.
"And she just had the biggest smile on her face," Mim continues. "That is a good memory."
"Yes it is," Kevin agrees.
Kinley is assistant editor of publications at the Nebraska State Historical Society.
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