By Heidi Coffee Skagen

If faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see, Indiana Jones was mustering up every bit of faith he could. He was standing on a precipice. Below him was a bottomless abyss. Where he needed to go was on the other side. There was no way around. People were depending on him. He couldn't go back.

The empty field with a rainbow over it as viewed from Heidi’s living room.
Picture courtesy of Heidi Coffee Skagen

He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and stepped out in faith that he wouldn't die. Lo and behold! His foot landed on a bridge that was camouflaged to blend in perfectly with the rock wall on the far side of the abyss. Completely invisible from his perspective. With each step he grew more confident and got closer to his objective.

How often I have thought of that scene in The Last Crusade when I am about to embark on something new and out of my comfort zone! I don't know how it will turn out, but I've got to take the first step or I'll never know.

The field mowed down in a circle and marked with black pots.

I did that in my mid-thirties when I went back to school to get a degree in landscape design. And again, when I started my business. With each client and project, I gained confidence and skill. Word-of-mouth recommendations kept my work schedule booked out for months. I had heard there was slow time in this industry, but I have never experienced it.

Years went by and then I embarked on the biggest adventure yet - remarriage. In so doing, I left the familiar neighborhoods I had lived and worked in for over 30 years. I moved south to live on 10 acres in the Kent/Covington area. And subsequently, a dream of mine that I had buried long ago began to rise again. To start a lavender farm.

Silage tarps and wood chips laid out in the field with a rainbow over the field.
Picture courtesy of Heidi Coffee Skagen

What does starting a lavender farm entail? What would I do with it? Would it be a destination spot? Harvest and sell it? To who? Would I get a distiller and make essential oil? Teach classes? These questions went through my mind constantly and every person who I told about my idea asked them.

After Indiana Jones had taken that first step, and realized he wasn't going to die, he hesitantly took the next. And then the next. He couldn't see the bridge but he knew it was there and it was taking him where he needed to go.

An eagle sitting on one of the black pots. A regular visitor during this process.
Picture courtesy of Heidi Coffee Skagen

I didn't have all the answers, but I knew I needed to go forward with my dream. There was a time when I didn't know how to run a landscape design business. There were lots of unknowns Who would hire me? How would potential clients find out about me? Could I do it? Each step I took seemed to take care of itself. Was it scary? Did it require a lot of hard work? Yes. But the very definition of adventure is an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity. I definitely had an adventurous spirit, and I still do.

I took down my website and I finished up with the clients I still had, now close to an hour's drive away, and and turned my attention toward a new goal.

Wood chips, wood chips and more wood chips! The silage tarp and a pick up truck in the distance.
Picture courtesy of Heidi Coffee Skagen

I stood at my living room window and gazed at the wide open field that lay out before me and at the woods beyond. I watched the light aircraft plane from the small airfield a few miles away fly overhead. I remembered teaching elementary school children about the Nazca drawings located in Peru. Huge, ancient drawn images in the Nazca desert that can only be viewed in their entirety from a plane. How had the Nazca pre-Inca culture landscapers done this over 1500 years ago??

Tracing out the labyrinth with mounds of soil that the plants will be planted on.
Picture courtesy of Heidi Coffee Skagen

My designer mind began to whirl with ideas. I began to picture a labyrinth of lavender big enough to cover half a football field. A labyrinth that would also be a picture that could be viewed from an airplane. Something to be enjoyed on foot, by air, and produce a harvest/income. How could it be done? I didn't know, but I decided to take the next step of faith anyway and prepare the field. This was very different from designing a small backyard!

The soil mounds being covered with landscape fabric.
Picture courtesy of Heidi Coffee Skagen

Meanwhile, I needed to draw out a labyrinth. I spent hours pouring over books and the internet, studying labyrinths in gardens, cathedrals, and town squares. I drew and drew and drew. It couldn't be too complicated, but not too simple either. If nothing else, it would be a place of beauty for me to walk, think and ponder and spend time amongst my favorite plant. Additionally, it would give the passengers in the small planes that flew over, something to talk about. But I hoped it would be much, much more. I wanted to make a business out of it. I finally managed to come up with a labyrinth design of my own that I thought I could possibly manage.

Heidi showing some of her planting crew how to plant the lavender.
Picture courtesy of Heidi Coffee Skagen

As the grass and weeds died away under the tarps I would pull the tarps back and dump a thick layer of wood chips over the area to help prevent the grass and weeds from regrowing. I would need A LOT of chips! I signed up for ChipDrop so tree companies would come and gladly dump their chips out in my giant circle where I would spread them with our tractor and by hand with a rake. Each driver was curious about what I was going to do out there.

Drawing a labyrinth that scales a 150 foot diameter circle out on a field is no small task! With my 200 foot tape measure I began sketching the lines and curves with marking paint that I bought in bulk at the Habitat for Humanity Store. I ordered a sandy golf coarse soil mix by the truck loads and made planting mounds on my sketched out lines. I covered them with landscape fabric and then added more wood chips to go on the labyrinth paths.

First aerial photo of the labyrinth being laid out.
Picture courtesy of Heidi Coffee Skagen

I got a taste of lavender heaven when the first 275 plants arrived. My heart was overflowing with excitement and I couldn't wait to lay them out. A friendly planting crew came to help plant and we got them done on one sunny Saturday in October 2022! Another 580 plants will be arriving in the Spring of 2023. I will be growing 5 different varieties.

Everyday I walk the labyrinth rain or shine. It's already functioning as a place for my creative thoughts to take wing. A place that I enjoy and can be at peace. I'm using this time to heal (I tore my meniscus during all of this) and plan. I'm designing other areas of the farm to hopefully implement later this year as well. The silage tarps will get used again to prepare a place for a kitchen garden.

The labyrinth laid out and the first 275 lavender plants planted.
Picture courtesy of Heidi Coffee Skagen

I know there is a lot of hard work ahead. I don't have all my questions answered, but I did meet a spice distributer who approached me about buying lavender from me when the harvest is ready. Yeah, that happens. The steps seem to take care of themselves as long as I'm willing to take them. I took the leap and I'm ready for the adventure that comes with it.

A sprig of lavender in the foreground with the labyrinth field in the middle ground, and woods in the background.
Picture courtesy of Heidi Coffee Skagen

For further info:
Look up and watch Indiana Jones Leap of Faith
Check out these Nazca Drawings
Check out Heidi's Lavender Journey
Contact Heidi Coffee Skagen at: