Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lavender Ice Cream

Lavender Ice Cream
Purple Haze, $4

Around 1850 settlers who reached the Sequim and Dungeness Bays at the northern end of Washington's Olympic Peninsula began to take advantage of the flat plains and fertile soil left behind by retreating glaciers and the protective "rain shadow" cast by the Olympic Mountains.  They cleared, irrigated, planted, and harvested handsomely, eventually shifting their focus from vegetables to small-scale dairies. 

A little over a century later, a new wave of settlers began to arrive, drawn to the same favorable conditions but for different reasons.  After a syndicated newspaper column for retirees published a letter praising the area's mild weather and low cost of living, the small town of Sequim experienced a population boom.   One struggling dairy farm after another was replaced by housing developments and chain stores. 

But just when it looked like nothing could check the spread of the cul-de-sacs, a Sequim civic committee convened in 1995 with the goal of revitalizing the area's agricultural traditions.  Like the settlers and the retirees, they looked at the landscape and the weather and saw yet another new solution:  lavender. 

Today Sequim has positioned itself as "America's Provence," with more than 30 local farms collaborating on events like the annual Lavender Festival, which attracts thousands of tourists in mid-July.  But visitors who arrive outside the high season don't miss out:  farmstands and shops feature a wild variety of value-added products, from sniffable sachets and soaps, to edible lavender-laced cheeses, cookies, and chocolates.  The Purple Haze farm's mainstreet shop even sells lavender and white chocolate ice cream, produced by Elevated Ice Cream in nearby Port Townsend.  

Purple Haze Lavender Shop
127 W Washington St
Sequim WA

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