My distillery is still
operating! Check out my
hydrosols - from organically grown herbs and plants here at La Paix.
And about l/2 the price of others on the web!
Wouldn't it be
wonderful if West Virginia farmers could grow for a market in West
Virginia which could transform their fresh produce into a finished
product? Many herbalists, therapists, aromatherapists and
cosmeticians in West Virginia use essential oils in their products.
They must buy these oils from out of state companies. I have a dream
that West Virginia farmers could grow the herbs needed for an essential
oil distillery in West Virginia. This would
1) increase the farmer's market, 2) stimulate value added
3) encourage research and
4) provide a finished, pure, environmentally friendly essential oil
and hydrosol to buyers everywhere.
The photos here illustrate:
Top: Field of Grosso Lavender in Provence, France, July 2001.
Bottom: Shop window in Provence, France.
||Distilled to date
2010: Lavender, Lemon Balm, Rose Scented Geranium, Thyme, Peppermint,
Egyptian Mint, and more. For more information
commercial essential oil distillery could be built in West Virginia, and
if it were owned by an herb grower's cooperative, a business could be
developed serving both West Virginia herb growers and the surrounding
population with jobs, related businesses (marketing, packaging, labeling)
and a true West Virginia product. This model distillery project was
funded by SARE (N.E. Sustainable Education and Research - USDA) and WVU
Extension Service in conjunction with La Paix Herb Farm in 2001.
This was the first step in discovering how such a commercial essential oil
operation could be accomplished. La Paix's Herb Farm's
Essential Oil Project is a pilot program showing a model essential oil
distillery in operation and illustrating its potential for creating jobs,
new products and markets for herbs in West Virginia.
Next Grower's Meeting: April 26th, 2003.
|In 2001, a grower's group of
ten was formed, lavender and lemon balm plugs distributed, and research
conducted on growing lavender and other essential oil plants.
Research was documented on both growing and the distillation
results. In 2002, a continuing group of six growers documented the
growth of their plants. In 2003, these growers and other potential
growers will meet at La Paix on April 26th for a workshop on lavender
propagation, essential oil distillation and planning for continued
research. Plans for the July 12th Lavender Fair at La Paix will be
discussed. In conjunction with a mental institution, research is
beginning on the Efficacy of Lavender in a Hospital Setting.
Research continues on growing, harvesting, distillation, essential oils,
hydrosols and marketing. Results will be updated on this
website. The steward of La Paix plans to publish a pamphlet on
Growing Lavender in West Virginia at the end of 2003 - based on the
research results to date.
The Essential Oil
Distillery was purchased from Robert Siedel of the Essential Oil
Company. This photo shows Judith, (Apprentice 2000) visiting in 2001
and examining the retort. (tall cylinder on left) Her friend, Jesse,
looks at the condenser (smaller cylinder on the right).
The retort has been filled with water up to the bottom of a steel basket
prior to putting the material in the retort. Flowers/leaves/or bark
are placed in a container (I use a clean pillowcase used only for
that purpose). The pillow case of material is held above the water
by a steel basket placing the material six inches above the bottom
of the retort. The steam builds up to about 200 degrees (temperature
gauge is on the right side of the retort). Steam circulates through
the bird beak to the condenser (next to Jesse). The bird beak
circulates steam to the condenser. The condenser has coils within it
which circulates the steam. The condenser is filled with cool water
which turns the steam to essential oil and hydrosol (floral water or
hydrolate, as it is known in France). The hydrosols and essential oils are
separated by a separator which can barely be seen here (in Jesse's left
hand). The water in the condenser is kept cool by re-circulating
through a series of three graduated steel containers of water.
This was the innovation of the steward of La Paix who was tired of buying
and carting ice to keep the condenser cool. The concept was
brought to fruition by another apprentice from WV Wesleyan College, David
Nichols. It works very well.
|This shows the distillery,
which is now located on a patio which was built by the side door of the
Shop. The distillery had to be moved to a roofed patio as steam from
the distillery threatened the books I have for sale in the Shop.
Anne Romance of Green Heron Gardens, is shown on the left. She
brought lemon grass and lemon verbena to be distillled. Cass
Nelson-Dooley, an apprentice in August and September of 2001, is on the
right. She was instrumental, as a chemistry major, in teaching me
how to sanitize the bottles used in collecting the hydrosol. I have
become very interested in the hydrosols (see Herb Product Page) and am
experimenting with their uses in a variety of ways, including hand wipes,
fertilizer for plants, and stopping raging stallions in their
tracks. Two books which I have found invaluable are:
Hydrosols, The Next Aromatherapy by Suzanne Catty (see Herb Product Page)
and Jeanne Rose's book on Hydrosols. For more pictures of the
distillation and an explanation, go to The Essential Oil Company
To date, I have distilled the following flowers, twigs and leaves:
lavender, lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon grass, peppermint, spearmint,
Egyptian mint, goldenrod, witch hazel, autumn olive blossoms, thyme, anise
hyssop, catnip, spicebush leaves and berries, purple perilla, yarrow, and
fleabane. Research into their uses is fascinating.
Epilogue: The dream of a large commercial distillery in WV did not
materialize for various reasons: crop failures, not enough
interest etc. However, I continue to use my distillery and distill
many of the herbs and plants at La Paix Herb Farm - all grown
organically. And.....for eight years we had a
Lavender Fair here -
sometimes drawing over 500 people.
La Paix Herb Farm
3052 Crooked Run Rd.
Alum Bridge, West Virginia U.S.A.
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