Charley and Linda selling their products at the Market.
Photo: Gary Mandelstam
Vendor: Charley Opper and Linda Barrett
Location: Capay Valley, CA
Products: Fresh and dried lavender, soap, oils, cooking salts and other lavender products
It's nearly impossible to pass by the Cache Creek Lavender stand without noticing the alluring scent of lavender and stopping to check out the beautiful array of products. Vendors since 1999, Charley Opper and Linda Barrett offer a wide variety of lavender products at the Market every Saturday morning.
When he started Cache Creek Lavender, farming was completely new to Charley, and it appealed to him in an intellectual way. He enjoys managing the business and improving his soaps and other products, but it’s the fun and challenge of developing new products that drives him to continue. Charley took some time to talk about how he and Linda began farming lavender, new products on the horizon, and some of their favorite ways to use lavender.
In His Own Words: Q&A with Charley Opper
"How did the business start and why lavender?"
We began selling bundles of freshly cut lavender at farmers’ markets with some friends. One day we met Nancy Pleibel (PAFM’s market manager) at one of the markets, and she asked us to participate in her Market in downtown Palo Alto. It was then that we realized lavender was a viable crop and decided to introduce other products made with our lavender. Today, we have over 35 different products including soaps, linen sprays, sachets, body cream, bath salts, and culinary lavender salt.
"What’s something people don’t know about lavender?"
"What do you enjoy most about the Market?"
"What’s on the horizon for Cache Creek Lavender?"
As far as the farm goes, I am hoping to enlarge my cultivated space by moving onto some land adjacent to our farm where we can plant more lavender. It will increase our production, which I really need to do because business has been good, and I have maxed out production on the current acreage.
"What are some favorite ways you and Linda like to use lavender?"
On the culinary end, we use our lavender salt nearly every night on salads, chicken, or steaks. To make it, we purchase organic French grey sea salt, which is a high-quality finishing salt, and then we combine it with our culinary lavender. We try for a perfect balance of saltiness with a hint of lavender, and when you sprinkle it on food, the flavor infuses very nicely. Our favorite way to enjoy our salt, especially in the summertime, is on sliced heirloom tomatoes. Delicious and fresh!
We also love using our essential lavender oil because it is so versatile. We use it in a variety of ways from putting it on after shaving to dressing a bee sting.
"Other than the Market, how can people learn more about Cache Creek?"