Ryan and Myriah Hopkins don’t think they will ever have enough of lavender. At least, that’s the plan.
The story of Lavender Creek, their farm and business with a dozen products, begins like a fairytale. “The wedding is what really started it all,” Ryan Hopkins says while standing on the freshly harvested lavender farm the couple bought in 2019. “We had a lot of lavender.” This year, 2022, the company did its first “mini harvest,” and they cannot wait for the full harvest next year.
The Hopkinses got married in Carmel Valley; the groom was familiar with the location since his parents moved to the area when he was a teen. (Ryan Hopkins attended Monterey and Pacific Grove high schools.) Still living a busy lifestyle in L.A. at the time, the newlyweds made a beautiful mistake of driving up Carmel Valley Road via Arroyo Seco, toward Greenfield.
“This property was for sale,” Hopkins says. They took a brochure and taped it to their bedroom door. A few years later, when they were ready to buy, the land was back on the market. “We moved here in 2021; we were so ready for a change,” he says.
Lavender became a symbol of this change, fittingly, a symbol of purity and devotion. To the Hopkinses, it’s also associated with parenthood (they just welcomed their second child), since half of the Lavender Creek products are for maternity and baby care: stretch mark oil, bath salt, and kids bubble bath – all made with lavender.
Mediterranean in origin, lavender feels at home in Monterey County. In France, Spain and Italy it has been used in the art of courtship since the Middle Ages. A groom-to-be would propose with lavender, and wives used it to keep their husbands interested. Associated with Provence, its most common species is an English lavender – and that’s the variety harvested at Lavender Creek.
“Royal velvet,” Hopkins says. “It’s a culinary variety. Is really well-rounded and has nice stems.”
Mentioned in the Bible at least twice, lavender was cherished already by Pliny the Elder (who lived from roughly 23 CE to 79 CE) as helping with kidney disease, menstrual irregularities, and any type of swelling.
“Four hospitals in the area are ordering from us,” Hopkins says. That includes Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, which now gifts lavender products to every mother who gives birth at the birth center. They connected after Myriah gave birth to the couple’s son at CHOMP on Aug. 23.
In 2021, the company participated in CSU Monterey Bay’s business startup challenge for local entrepreneurs. They took runner-up in their division.
In addition to maternity care, Lavender Creek offers dry culinary lavender, bouquets, soap, hand moisturizer and balms. They work with a few vendors who developed formulas for their products, and are importing dried lavender from France – to be replaced when the first full harvest of their own is ready in 2023.
Fortunately, lavender is a drought-resistant plant. The plants can last 10-plus years if cared for properly. It is also pest-resistant, even though Hopkins knows of some turkeys and deer nibbling on his flowers.
There are the finished products, and there is the farm. Because of its uniquely beautiful location that seems to tumble down a steep hill in the Santa Lucia Mountains, the couple is considering transforming the working farm into a lavender venue.
“I would like to clean it up and have people come visit,” Hopkins says.
There’s much to see. The farm is in wine country, with views along the way. There is a seasonal stream called Piney Creek nearby that gave the farm its name. (It often dries up in August.)
The Hopkinses remember how they felt when they drove by the first time, and how much they loved it. Now others stop – a couple in a cabriolet, bicycle marathon participants. “They see me working. They come up and say, ‘Hey! Lavender!’ It’s kind of friendly that way.”