Diversifying with Lavender: Resources, Training, Networks for Commercial Lavender Producers

PI: Wynne Wright (Michigan State University)
Co-PIs: Megan Kennelly (Kansas State University); Dennis Hamilton (US Lavender Growers Assoc); Joy Landis and Erin Lizotte (Michigan State University)
Award: $21,686

Project Abstract

The process of agricultural restructuring in the United States has been strongly influenced both by demographic trends (U.S. Census of Agriculture, 2014) and market liberalization (Bowler et al, 1996). A host of beginning farmers are searching for new farming practices, while existing farmers are searching for innovative entrepreneurial pathways to increase farm profitability (Anosike and Coughenour, 1990; Barbieri and Mahoney, 2009; Evans and Ilbery, 1993; Gasson, 1998; Marsden et al., 1992; McElwee, 2006; Vogel, 2012). Currently, over 20% of all U.S. farms are operated by beginning farmers (under 10 years in farming) (Ahearn, 2016) – a population who are likely to come from non-farm backgrounds (Shute, 2011). Both experienced producers and beginning farmers encounter high transaction costs in their pursuit of diversification (Delgado and Siamwalla, 1997). The consequences emerging from this change present opportunities for farm diversification that lends itself to broader structural shifts in agriculture while at the same time serving new consumers looking for new markets and innovative forms of recreation/leisure (Atkins and Bowler, 2016; Wright and Annes, 2014). The primary goal of this project is to facilitate farm diversification and build opportunities for beginning and entrepreneurial farmers by establishing an instructional curriculum in commercial lavender production.