Member’s Experience Harvesting Lavender in France

Summer 2003

What a most wonderful and inspiring time I had in France and Italy. The following letter came to me from my two new Austrian friends who were part of our team of 12 that spent the week with Gary Young in Simiane, France. It is so well described that I thought of passing this on to you so you can get a taste of how it was for those of us who were there.

For myself, it was so fantastic to come full circle—from actually getting my hands into the fields of lavender and Lavandin, to experiencing the intensity of weeding many acres by hand in that heat and then actually partaking in the distillation process. And it was an absolute blessing to hear the many stories directly from Gary Young and be able to ask questions in such an intimate setting.

I can tell you all first hand that we truly have some of the best oils on the planet and I don’t say this lightly. As we toured other distilleries and watched and learned, I saw that even these 4th- and 5th-generation lavender distillers only know about distillation for perfume and sachets (which are very popular in France). This is the heart of the lavender world and they are clueless about distilling therapeutic-grade oils.

All I can say is that Gary Young is a man of absolute integrity with knowledge beyond what I ever realized even after studying for 7 1/2 years with him. I am inspired and am so very grateful to have been one of the 12 people to spend this kind of time in France with Gary.

I send you my love,


Dear Friends,

We are back from our traveling to France for the harvest. For me, the Provence area where the lavender and Lavandin grows is one of the most wonderful places on the planet. Perhaps the Lavender and Lavandin growing there have a vibrational healing affect on the area and the people. The feeling is silent. This year was unusually hot and dry so the plants matured early. Most of the fields had been harvested before we arrived. The area is hilly with small villages that go back hundreds of years. The houses are built out of stone. We stayed in a house that was renewed, and very old. (I was impressed with the spiral staircase as I could see no means of support.) There were 12 of us, mostly from the states, 2 from Vienna.

We had three training evenings with Gary. The first was a talk about the importance of the health of the liver. The second was on emotional release. And the third was a demonstration of the Raindrop Technique. We also had a ‘field trip’ where we drove around the area and saw where Gary first learned distillation from a master. And also saw fields that had been full with lavender in the past decade, and are no longer. True Lavender is dying out in France.

On a different day we visited with the President of one of the largest Lavender Associations in France. We also had a field trip and slide show with a botanist who showed us in the wild how to tell the difference between true Lavender and Lavandin. Lavandin is a cross between true Lavender and spike Lavender that also grows in the wild at a lower elevation. When the two cross-pollinate, the result is Lavandin, which is sterile. It also grows in the wild. Cuttings are taken from the Lavandin and when the plants mature more cuttings are taken from those and grown until a whole field of Lavandin is produced. These plants are called clones. Lavandin produces 4 to 5 times the amount of oil as does true Lavender. And it is relatively easy to alter with heat and added chemicals and sell as ‘Lavender.’ Also it is difficult to detect. That is why Gary has a 60-meter gas chromatography machine at Young Living that is calibrated to the machine at France–the only calibrated machine in the U.S. Most companies that say that they are using gas chromatography to test their oils are using a machine that is only 30 meters long and designed for a varity of substances, and is unsuitable for the complexities of essential oils. Young Living has over a quarter of a million dollars in test equipment and it is used for every batch of oil! Even oil that is tested in France is re-tested at Young Living to assure quality. And Gary has a degree in operating and reading the gas chromatography machine.

Back to the Lavender Harvest. We actually harvested Lavandin. It is used in our blends of Purification and Release. (The Lavender was planted this spring and needs two years to grow.) To harvest the Lavandin we used a machine that cut the Lavandin and put it into small bales. We then loaded the small bales into a wagon with pitch forks. We then drove to the distillery and emptied the wagon into the distiller and packed it in, closed the lid and flowed the steam in for one hour. In the end we each got to dip our bottles into the new oil and have our own personal sample of Lavandin. We were told that it needs to breath for awhile, like a good wine. Then it can be used. This, I believe is true of all essential oils.

We also spent a bit of time weeding as Young Living uses no chemicals on their fields.

If you ever listen to a tape of Gary speaking and you wonder if one man can accomplish what he says he does, spend a few days in his presence. Then you will see for yourself. He was in the fields often before we were awake, and stayed up late each night teaching us. He experienced no jet lag in coming from America. There are not many men on this planet like him. I certainly am not. He is constantly giving of himself. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of this company and vision. Together we are working for true healing for ourselves and the planet.

With Love,
Lars & Prakama


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