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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lavender blossoms at market

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By William Aranda / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Universal Herbs owner Allison Alterman shows a wild monarda to customer Karen Wood during the Los Ranchos Growers’ Market on Saturday morning. Alterman has been a vendor at the Growers’ Market for seven years.

A miracle crop that was celebrated this weekend at the Los Ranchos Growers’ Market can be used in medicine, foods and grows easily in the New Mexico climate. It is not red or green, though; it’s lavender.

Kelly Ward, village administrator of Los Ranchos, said the Lavender and Garlic Festival has had many iterations throughout the last 10 years, and this year it finds its home at the Los Ranchos Growers’ market.

“The Growers’ Market is expanding itself to accommodate more growers and producers of lavender,” Ward said, “so there will be more booths than they normally have.”

There were many demonstrations throughout the day that featured planting and cooking with both lavender and garlic, he said.

“Professional cooks and growers talk about planting lavender, harvesting it and the different varieties of lavender, as well as how to grow it in this environment,” Ward said.

The Growers’ Market, which is a weekly event at 6718 Rio Grande Blvd. N.W., is free to attend, he said.

Sue Brawley, volunteer co-manager of the Growers’ Market said the market is a great way to support the local community, which is run by a dedicated group of volunteers and students.

“We hire mid-school and high school students, especially 4-H, in our Earn and Learn program,” Brawley said. “They are the only ones that earn any money. They help us with set up and clean up and things like that, and they can have something to put on their résumés.”

There is an average of 40 vendors in attendance every week at the Growers’ Market, she said, and during the Lavender and Garlic Festival there were approximately 70 vendors, among whom were farmers and craftspeople.

“This is our biggest event of the year; we started this event 14 years ago to celebrate the harvest of lavender, and we added garlic to the concept because why not celebrate them both?” she said.

There will be other special events held with the weekly Growers’ Market that include the Flower Festival at the end of this month; a celebration of the peak of harvest in August; and Beans, Corn and Chile to celebrate their harvest in September, she said.

Katreena Kirkland is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at culture@dailylobo.com.