Friday, April 19, 2024

Under the Stars Farm hosts First Annual Lavender Festival

Under the Stars Farm, the newest lavender farm in Gloucester County, is having its first annual lavender festival on June 5. (Courtesy of Joy Mills of Bella Eve Photography)

GLOUCESTER — The first lavender plants at Under the Stars Farm, 11352 Harcum Road, were put in the ground back in 2019, and, two years later, they’re ready to blossom for a second season in a row. 

Some would say it’s worthy of a celebration. 

And that’s exactly what Under the Stars is doing. The Gloucester farm is hitting a huge benchmark this week by hosting their first annual Lavender Festival. 

A passion project by CJ McDonald and her husband, Billy, the Under the Stars Farm covers 126 acres, with the lavender fields occupying 12.5 of those.

“Our mission is to provide a place for the creation of moments & memories that last a lifetime,” McDonald said in a phone interview. 

The McDonald family purchased the farm in 2016, along with the historical farmhouse built in the 1840s. McDonald said that when she was a child, she always wanted her own farm, especially one that cultivated a culture of service and community. 

She spent 22 years as a business strategist and consultant. After 18 months of planning for her retirement, McDonald’s family moved to Virginia after husband, who is a retired Green Beret with 35 years serving in the U.S. Special Forces, lost the use of his right-dominant hand due to a surgeon’s error. 

The McDonalds flew all over the country to find a doctor who could help them. After four surgeries with no luck, McDonald said she started praying for peace instead. 

And it was peace that they found through their work at Under the Stars, with their efforts are fully paying off with the Lavender Festival. 

“It was supposed to be last year, but because of the pandemic, we had to cancel,” she said. 

This year’s festival will allow guests to picnic on the grass, overlooking the lavender fields and browse the farm store where spa and culinary products will be available. Guests can also shop at the local artisan marketplace and enjoy wine tasting as well. 

Woody’s Wood Carving will be there performing live chainsaw carving in a stump from the farm, as well as a food truck and live music.  

McDonald said that they’re also wrapping up construction of a natural playground called Wink Land, a reference to the farm’s beloved purple fairy mascot, Periwinkle. She said that they plan on doing a ribbon cutting as well. 

While tickets for the festival closed yesterday, Under the Stars Farm has more upcoming events, including their Aug. 7 dessert competition “One Sweet Night,” in which local chefs will compete to make the best dessert that incorporates culinary lavender.  On October 20, McDonald said the farm will be hosting “Taste of Virginia, Harvest Fest” where guests can try out different colloquial foods. 

Those who are attending the festival will park at BridgePoint Church, where a 52 passenger bus will shuttle guests to and from the farm. McDonald said the bus will be cleaned between each trip.

Under the Stars Farm is located at 11532 Harcum Rd. To find out more information about the farm, visit their website by clicking here.


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