Organic Lavender Farm
Real-Life Heroes Manage Organic Farm in Idaho
Monty Holmes and his wife Pat, are the managers of the Young Living farm near St. Maries, Idaho. Monty and Pat were successful in overcoming the challenges of the land, but the story only begins there. Those who know Monty and Pat recognize them as veritable heroes.
During the last eight years, Pat and Monty Holmes have watched Young Living’s St. Maries farm develop from a piece of untilled pasture of quack grass to a sprawling 60-acre farm blanketed with neat rows of lavender, melissa, tansy, and peppermint.
During this time, Pat and Monty have worked tiredlessly planting, irrigating, harvesting, and distilling. With Pat overseeing field operations and Monty managing the distillery and the mechanics, this husband-and-wife team has expanded the acreage under cultivation from 2 to 60 acres – despite a host of obstacles, ranging from their health challenges to the spring frosts.
Pat, a native Idaho resident, began working at the St. Maries farm in the spring of 1993 to help Gary plant French lavender seed. Monty was skeptical about the whole project at first and stayed out of the picture.
A retired automobile service manager, Monty was content to enjoy retirement, raise rottweilers, and travel to dog shows. He had no interest in “the herb and oil stuff” that his wife was involved in – at least not until he visited the farm several months later and saw firsthand what was going on. He was instantly captivated. “When I realized what Gary Young was doing, I was spellbound. I hired on as a mechanic and have been with Gary ever since.”
It was tough going at first. While the native tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) was easy to cultivate, growing Lavender proved to be much more difficult. Extended spring frosts took their toll on many young lavender plants, forcing Pat to replant later in the season. Even worse, the native quack grass grew quickly and outmuscled the lavender for growing space. Because no chemical herbicides are used, this meant having to continually clear the weeds by hand.
Growing lavender became so difficult that Gary announced at the 1995 Young Living Convention that lavender could not be raised in St. Maries. But Monty was determined and made Gary a promise: “Give me two years and I’ll grow lavender.”
True to his word, Monty distilled St. Maries’ first lavender oil in 1998. And today, with over two dozen acres of lavender under cultivation, Monty plans on doubling the amount of lavender by next year. The lush tufts of purple blossoms that blanket the north and west quadrant of the farm bear testimony of how determination and finesse can coax miracles out of the soil.
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