Lavender by the Bay hasn’t always been the 17-acre North Fork farm with 80,000 plants that it is today. It started many years ago as a small family hobby and gradually grew to its current size due to one man’s interest in agriculture, his passion for art, and his vision in combining the two, culminating in the beautiful lavender fields and products you find here today.
The story began many moons ago with Serge, who was born in France, and naturally drawn to farm life. He spent his childhood summers tending to a herd of cows in the South of France, and his joy for the farm life didn’t stop there. As a young adult, Serge moved to Israel to continue working the land. It was there that he met and married his wife Susan. The two spent 10 years on Kibbutz together where they started a family. Susan was teaching English at the time, while Serge worked in the apple orchards specializing in agriculture and drip irrigation.
In 1979, the young family returned to Susan’s hometown of New York City. In the late 80's, the family purchased a modest weekend and summer getaway property in Southold, NY. Their sons, Micha and Chanan, grew up enjoying the Long Island Sound surf, fishing on Peconic Bay, and helping their parents spruce up the rustic lakeside home. Serge wanted his weekend refuge to evoke the lyrical beauty of the south of France, so he designed a lavender-dominant landscape for his new yard. This was just the beginning!
After a few years, the lavender grew profusely in the North Fork’s salty sea air. As an elementary school art teacher, Susan began crafting the extra flowers into sachets, lavender wands, and rustic bouquets. They would leave the wonderfully scented products on a bench at the end of their driveway and walk with their children to the beach down the road. Each day when they returned, the bench would be empty and the cash jar they had left would be full.
This summer tradition continued for many years, with the addition of an occasional weekend spent selling lavender products at regional farmer’s markets and craft shows. Serge soon delved into beekeeping as a side hobby, which dovetailed beautifully with lavender. The demand for the lavender and eventually for the lavender honey grew so strong that he and Susan began searching for a piece of land on which to expand their passion-turned-business. Fortunately they found the perfect location in East Marion, NY and established Lavender by the Bay, the farm you visit today.
Through the years, the entire family has grown along with their efforts in the business. Customers can find a small selection of lavender culinary products made by daughter-in-law Jen, while granddaughter Talia enjoys running the cash register. Elder son, Micha, lends a hand in the fields when not chasing after his son Sammy and dog Willy. Susan and Serge’s younger son, Chanan, enjoys focusing on business development, while Chanan’s wife, Miriam, when not busy raising future Lavender by the Bay helper, son Jonah, is the official product tester. Their dog Linus sticks to what he knows best - barking his greetings to the customers.
Thanks to their loyal customer base (you!) as well as the family’s ongoing passion for all things purple, Lavender by the Bay continues to grow. The farm store, New York City Greenmarkets, as well as the website carry new and refined products including: lavender essential oil, lotions, soaps, bunches, as well as Susan’s ever-changing designs in sachets.
The farm continues to be family (and dog) operated. We look forward to seeing you all for the 2018 lavender bloom on the North Fork! Learn more about visiting the farm here.