Lavender is a Family Affair at Choueiri Farms
We want to tell you a heartwarming success story of a Lebanese family that recently started making a range of lovely home grown lavender products. Here it goes…
Ramzi Choueiri works as an industrial engineer but has always been interested in agriculture ever since he was very young. To properly pursue his passion in planting, he purchased a plot of land in 2016 in the Bekaa region. He began to dabble with producing lavender and his side business began to take shape. But why lavender of all the other crops that he could have chosen? “My late father had a neurological illness and he always put on a lavender perfume,” explains Ramzi. “The distinct smell stayed with me and later inspired me to work with this soothing aromatic plant. I felt lavender can be used in many beneficial ways.”
His 13,000 square meter plot became his research and development site to get the crops exactly right. Initially he planted lavender from locally sourced Lebanese seeds. The first yields were a mish mash of different lavender species. It was hard to work with plants that all had diverse characteristics, and he was not able to unify his lavender to one type. Ramzi also took various workshops on lavender in order to become an expert on the flowering plant. After his planting trials, he decided to source a lavender species native to France. He purchased its rootstock (small plants) and planted them in his fields, creating his own sustainable nursery.
In 2020, he and his family began to market and sell his products within Lebanon. His wife and children are all involved in the business and together they dedicate their spare time to their burgeoning side business. Ramzi and his wife both work full time in Beirut but they devote weekends and their holidays attending to their lavender plants. “Initially my children would sew the lavender sachets with us from home,” recalls Rami fondly. Now, however, Ramzi outsources people to complete his lavender products range, which go by the name, Choueiri Lavender Farms. He subcontracts different experts according to his needs. Today, he only fully prepares the lavender bouquets and honey in house, while the rest of the lavender products get finalized with the help of experts, such as candle makers and herbalists. “I send them my crops and they use it in the tinctures, whether it is for essential oils or for candles,” Explains Ramzi. In addition to the specialists, seven local families also help Ramzi on a part-time basis at the farm.
Currently, Choueiri Lavender Farms produces lavender bouquets (popular for weddings and other special occasions), essential oil, candle, soap, potpourri, honey, deodorant and lavender water, and the latter has a variety of uses according to Ramzi. “The distilled lavender water is used in a similar way to rose water, as a beverage such as for tea or for cooking. You can also use it in the bath for a relaxing aromatherapy soak. It can also be used as an insect repellant and for treating greasy scalp.” The honey is produced with bees that feed on pollen and nectar from his lavender. “Our lavender honey is very soft with a pleasant mild taste. It is 100% natural with nothing added to it. Children can eat it safely,” says Ramzi.
To maintain his crops, Ramzi has installed an irrigation system that provides fresh water from a local artesian well. Lately, however, he is facing difficulty to pump the water at regular times due to the frequent electrical power cuts in Lebanon. “This has been our only challenge this year,” says Ramzi. “Otherwise, we have had a good harvest overall.” The lavender normally blossoms in March and gets picked in early July, before the scorching hot summer in the Bekaa. During winter (starting from September until March), the lavender plants hibernate and do not need water according to Ramzi. “They sleep during these months and they can sustain snow and freezing temperatures.”
Ramzi’s lavender crops are all grown organically. It also happens that lavender is a natural insect repellent, therefore, there is no need for any type of pesticides. How cool is that! Ramzi is also working on getting his certifications in order to be able to export his products in the near future. “We are on the right track working on them,” he shares. Sales are doing well within Lebanon and Ramzi has been establishing contacts with agents abroad who support Lebanese businesses, namely in Japan, Canada and Dubai.
On the farm, Ramzi has his indoor workshop and an outdoor seating area. This past summer he even received tourist buses where he gave visitors a presentation of his farm accompanied by breakfast. As September comes to an end, his lovely lavender will soon take a long siesta until they blossom in Spring. If you are interested in receiving a tour of Choueiri Lavender Farm – mark your calendar for Summer 2022! Ramzi is also developing additional lavender products which will likely be ready by next summer too. If you are a fan of lavender, like we are at The Wellness Project, then you definitely need to check them out. They can be found on Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/choueiri.lavender.farms/?hl=en and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Farm/Choueiri-Lavender-Farms-1638101309599406/
We hope you enjoyed reading about the Choueiri Lavender Farm enterprise. We are proud to be talking about the growing number of Made in Lebanon businesses that follow ethical and sustainable practices. While the crisis in Lebanon has had a devastating effect on the economy and welfare of families, we know there are many people who have been swimming upstream facing multiple challenges to make meaningful and beautiful products in Lebanon. This story we shared today is one of many Lebanese families doing great things. This country may be going through its toughest time in recent history, but it is blessed with so much – from natural to human resources. Let’s support local businesses as much as we can and buy from them. If you know of any great Made in Lebanon brand we should talk about let us know and we are happy to do a story on them!
Pictures Credit: Ramzi Choueiri