Life often leads us down unexpected pathways. This is certainly the case for Cate Bacon.
A long interest in organics and sustainability saw Cate and her Resource Management Consultant husband Francis, purchasing a 2.3 hectare property in Brightwater in 2006. The plan was to grow high end products, gain organic certification leading to the establishment of an organic café. Figs, lemons, Christmas trees, fruit, nuts and vegetables were part of this plan. The farming of Saffron, which is an exotic aromatic spice and reputely one of the most expensive in the world became the cornerstone to the Organic farming activity. The aim is to produce a New Zealand Saffron which is fresh and seasonally available in the autumn months.
So how did the journey into the world of producing award winning lavender oil come about?
When Frank succumbed to cancer in 2009 plans hit a major roadblock. Lavender came to the rescue. The enthusiastic reaction to the properties of the lavender plants being grown as a companion plant to saffron, by natural cosmetics producer Carol Priest, lead to a venture into the world of growing organic lavender.The lavender flourishes in the free draining river terrace soils of Mt Heslington and the Nelson climate. Cate grows five main varieties of lavender for essential oil production and has gained a number of awards in the New Zealand Lavender Grower’s Supreme Oil Competitions : Gold Award for her 2013 Lavandula blend, as well as silver award for her 2013 Lavandula x Intermedia Grosso. Cate will add these to her award from 2012 for her ‘Pacific Blue’ augustifolia lavender oil. In addition to steam distilled Lavandula augustifolia and Lavandula x intermedia, Cate grows lavender to sell as a fresh and dried product along with products made from lavender, such as sleep balm, room spray and linen spray. A new development is the production of dried lavender for culinary use.
The farm now has International certification status from BioGro, a leading organic accreditor.
Cate chose the name Simpatico for her lavender products to reflect the balance that growing lavender has brought back to her life. The reflective mandolin player is a personal acknowledgment of the importance and influence of her father. As a young child in Italy he wanted his father to bring a mandolin back to him on his return to Italy after working in NZ to earn and send money to support the family and ultimately bring them to a better life in NZ. The combination of hard work, sound values, passion and dedication to a goal: just like growing top quality lavender with its properties to calm, cleanse and heal.