Southern Grace Lavender Farm in Southport sells lavender items, including candles, soaps and jelly.
SOUTHPORT — Jason Leabo didn’t have much experience farming but after seeing lavender farms in California, he wanted to create his own.
On paper, Leabo is the managing member of Southern Grace Lavender Farm in Southport but, in his own words, he’s the “guy on the farm” who came up with the idea.
“Before all this, I couldn’t build a birdhouse,” Leabo said. “I found out (lavender) was an ideal cash crop. It’s easy to grow. I felt it was something I could grow and not have to worry about spraying with pesticides.”
Southern Grace sells lavender items, including candles, soaps and jelly. When people taste lavender, it’s comparable to a child trying chocolate for the first time, Leabo said.
“It’s a memorable, happy experience for them,” Leabo said. “We create a product we would be willing to give to our daughter on her wedding day.”
Growing the lavender takes time and effort, though. Leabo also is in the Army Reserves, part of a long career in the military. He works every day, with Tuesday being his first day off since June 15. He even created his own soil mixture using oyster shells and other things.
His daughters helped him plant, check plants for damage and pull weeds.
“It’s really demanding,” Leabo said. “I really hope I can get to a point where I have more downtime.”
Along with more downtime, Leabo also wants Southern Grace to have a gift shop and envisions the farm being a spot to host food trucks and have other farmers come set up tents for events.
Generally, Leabo’s mission is to educate people about the lavender industry, because lavender’s appeal extends beyond the scent. Leabo said it has culinary uses and is found in a variety of products, including laundry detergent. Leabo also asks around at farmer markets on what products people would like to see made.
People curious for more information or looking to order products can check out southerngracelavenderfarm.com or the Southern Grace Lavender Farm page on Facebook. Leabo urged people to contact him at the website and Facebook page or by phone at 850-348-3361 if they want to tour the farm.
“People love our products,” Leabo said. “We’ve had nothing but positive reviews on Facebook.”
This story originally published to newsherald.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network via the Florida Wire. The Florida Wire, which runs across digital, print and video platforms, curates and distributes Florida-focused stories. For more Florida stories, visit here, and to support local media throughout the state of Florida, consider subscribing to your local paper.