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Before embarking on what they call “ the lavender project” with Annie’s sister Kate, Sandra and Annie spent ten years understanding local growing conditions; knowing what grew well in the local climate was essential. French butterfly lavenders, now filling English garden centres as well as some Italian ones cannot tolerate the extreme cold of the Umbrian winter. So like butterflies, they are briefly beautiful but short lived. Annie uses the occasional specimen plant as an extravagance, knowing it will be gone next year.  Plants that do well in the hills of the Ardeche are well suited to large scale production and thrive here in Umbria. So when a piece of fallow land became available near their house it seemed an ideal opportunity to start up a small project. Annie spoke with S.Censini who remembered the land from his childhood. He endorsed the idea, recalling the nature and possibilities of the soil. Lavender would work he said. An added bonus of the fallow land was that it had had no exposure to pesticides and so in line with the principles Annie and Sandra had applied in the garden it was easy enough to fulfil the requirements of organic production.

A few years later, and with the help of friends and particularly the enthusiastic input of Katharina Radetsky  and her son Diego Leonardi, “Tre Donne”, as the family have named the lavender project, is successfully producing high quality lavender oil. Sold in its own label bottles, the oil is ideal as bath essence and for use in aroma therapy. The seed heads smell marvellous bagged up simply in exquisite, fine muslin and will deter insects and keep clothing smelling fresh for months. Kate, the chemist in the family, has launched into soap and candle production and the arrival of new bees this year in the hamlet means that soon bees wax and honey will be available. With an eye to the future the family have now grown new stocks of plants and will plant different lavender and rosemary for oil production in the autumn.

     

Please contact us to find out more about the Tre Donne project:
 Email: Info3donne@yahoo.co.uk,
Tel: (0039) 338 9457512
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