Lavender to carry family farm into future

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Karen Krodel deepens a hole in order to plant lavender at her farm in Portersville last week. 


PORTERSVILLE — Karen Krodel has two passions and doesn’t plan on giving up either of them anytime soon.

The 65-year-old woman enjoys practicing law — she has a private practice in Jasper — and spending time outside on her Portersville farm that’s been in her family for three generations.

And, there’s a new project that’s keeping her busy on the farm — lavender.

Last week, she finished planting 300 lavender plants — she already planted two test plots of lavender this past May, and they’ve done well — that she hopes will carry the farm into the future.

The farm has raised things like strawberries and hogs, and in the 1990s, Krodel’s late father, Dallas (her mom’s name was Mabel), got into the cattle business, which Krodel is still involved in some.

Krodel’s mother died in 2009, and since, Krodel has been completing various farm projects and renovations to the family property. By last year, most of her projects were finished, and Krodel said she started twiddling her thumbs on her off days (she works four days a week as a lawyer). She knew there had to be something else she could do with the farm, and she wanted to work with what she had. The farm’s land is mostly sand, so certain things don’t grow well there, however, lavender does. The idea was born and has since grown into a passion for Krodel.

“Estate planning is what I do (as a lawyer), thinking forward about the what-ifs,” she said. “This is just another page turned in the history of the farm.”

Krodel enjoys the opportunity to work with her hands, which contrasts her job as an attorney.

Lavender plants come in various varieties — Krodel has planted grosso and phenomenal — and can be used for crafting, oil products or culinary purposes

Krodel hopes the plants will bloom next summer — their life expectancy is typically 10 years — and she’ll be able to use them to produce products like lavender sugar and shea butter. She also wants to host a lavender festival at the farm starting in 2020, where various lavender vendors can sell their products.

Her lavender business is aptly named White River Lavender, due to Krodel Farm’s proximity to the river. All of the water used with the lavender plants is natural spring water from the area.

So far, Krodel has enjoyed planting the lavender, “because your nose is right in it.”

For her, the plants are easier to read than others.

“When they’re really well, they just reach to the heavens,” Krodel said. “When they get stressed, they’re sad. When they’re dry, they have a grayish look, and when they’re wet, they’re a dark green.”

What would her late grandfather Arlo, who founded Krodel Farm, say about her lavender venture?

“He’d say, ‘You’re crazy’,” Krodel said. “But Grandma (Emily) would be right out there with me.”

"I just love this. I could do this all day," Krodel says as she plants lavender at her farm in Portersville last week. The farm's naturally sandy soil makes growing crops like corn difficult, so Krodel researched plants that prefer the sand and found a passion for lavender. "Never, ever fight mother nature," Krodel said.

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