Driving along the Main Road in East Marion, a glance at the sprawling fields of Lavender by the Bay is reminiscent of the fields of France.
Owners Susan and Serge Rozenbaum began their relationship with lavender at their house in Southold. With a garden full of sand and well-drained soil, the family’s lavender thrived and they started giving it away to friends and family. Susan says they put a table at the end of their driveway and put out cut lavender, honey, and handmade sachets and people would buy it all.
“Then my husband said ‘let’s look for land and buy a farm,’” she said.
Seven years ago they started work on their 17-acre farm. She said the development rights on the property were sold and her family was able to purchase the farm at a reasonable rate. Originally selling plants and cut lavender under a tent, the family built a barn three years ago to accommodate the expanding business.
Lavender by the Bay grows two families of lavender: English lavender and lavandin (long-stemmed). Within each family, there are a number of varieties, Susan Rozenbaum said. In addition to the cut-your-own business, they sell sachets, soaps, plants, dried lavender and honey in the barn. Rozembaum’s husband makes the honey from on-site beehives.
“Our bees produce a very delicious type of lavender honey,” she said.
The English lavender is available for cutting from June through July and the honey goes on sale in late July. There may be a re-bloom in September and some of the younger plants may mature as well.
Susan Rozenbaum suggested checking the website to see what is available in the fields.
“August is generally a down-time for lavender picking, but we have lavender items for sale. We also sell plants that were a success in the field,” Rozenbaum said.
She said the business is at times challenging because there is an “intense” one–month period where customers come to pick lavender, they are cutting and drying the lavender for sachets, and Serge is working on the honey."
The retired teacher says her husband works seven days a week in the fields this time of year. She works there four days a week and sews sachets the other three days. They are busy, but Rozenbaum says they enjoy it.
“The nicest thing about teaching art was how excited the kids were to see me. When people come in the shop, it’s almost the same thing. It makes them smile,” she said.
Throughout the season, the soaps and sachets sell very well, as does the cut lavender. By the end of the season, the lavender honey will usually be sold out as well: Rozenbaum said many people like to take a little piece of the North Fork home with them.
Lavender by the Bay is open daily June through October and weekends in May. Its products are sold also in the green markets in New York City. Check the website.