When one envisions beautiful, bright fields full of lavender, Greer, South Carolina, probably doesn’t come to mind. But husband and wife duo Tim and Mary Bergstrom have created a lavender lover’s paradise with their farm, Southern Hills Lavender. After their first crop became available for public picking in the summer of 2016, Southern Hills has steadily gained in popularity.
The Bergstroms had been living up north when they decided to pursue their dream of owning a small business. With Mary’s background in technology and Tim’s degree in forestry, combined with a mutual love of gardens and plants, a small farm seemed like an ideal fit. After exhaustive research, Mary and Tim picked lavender as their crop of choice. They read all the books they could get their hands on, went to conferences, and visited and volunteered at lavender farms.
Wanting to be closer to their families, Mary and Tim made the move to South Carolina and began the land hunt for their new venture. “It took three years to find the land. We knew we wanted something that would work for plants, but also for us to have a house, be close to stores, and work for agrotourism,” says Mary.
Mary runs the farm full time, while Tim works for the USDA and helps Mary on nights and weekends. Their enthusiasm for Southern Hills Lavender is palpable, not just as a business, but also because of the community connection. People flocked to the farm from the beginning. During the mid-May to mid-June “uptick” season, the public can pay a small fee and pick from the lavender available at the farm. Plants are also for sale, as well as a variety of products at their retail shop, including soaps, lotions, candles, essential oils, sachets, chocolate, and more. While local artisans craft many of the products, the Bergstroms make several themselves and sell at farmer’s markets and craft shows.
Although Southern Hills has been a success, the journey hasn’t been all sunshine and, er, lavender. Mary and Tim had to contend with diseased soil, a major challenge for plant growers. Fortunately they’ve worked with Clemson professor of plant pathology Dr. Steven Jeffers to address this industry problem, and their purple-hued fields have continued to flourish, leading to a special partnership with Seasons Café & Catering. Southern Hills grows two types of the aromatic herb, including the culinary kind that’s used for food and drinks. With the expertise of Seasons, the team has developed a lavender-based, seasonal menu for the farm’s “Feast in the Field” event held each October.
With the success of curated culinary events and a hopping uptick season, the Bergstroms feel embraced by the greater Greenville community. “We recognize that businesses . . . aren’t as lucky as we are,” Mary says. “We recognize that it’s the lavender that people love. We’re grateful.”
Southern Hills Farm, 2132 Edwards Lake Rd, Greer, SC. southernhillslavender.com
Feast in the Field
This October, Feast in the Field guests will sample a lavender-infused local menu, carefully curated by Southern Hills and Seasons Café & Catering—all enjoyed on the farm. The cost is $50 per person with vegetarian and gluten-free options available. Registration required. Thursday, October 11, 6–9pm, rain date: Oct 18; Tuesday, October 16, 6–9pm, rain date: Oct 23; Sunday, October 21, 1–4pm, rain date: Oct 28.