College Hill neighborhood plants lavender farm bringing money and hope back into community

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ST. LOUIS – Lavender is known for its calming effects, but for the College Hill neighborhood in downtown St. Louis, it’s best known for creating change and spreading hope.

“College Hill has been a community that when you see it on the news, it’s always something negative,” Gail Olson, president of the College Hill Foundation board said. “And people that live here aren’t negative.”

The College Hill Foundation planted the seed 4 years ago to grow positivty in the St. Louis neighborhood.

The foundation started a lavender farm at the corner of Blair and Linton Avenue 4 years ago.

“The land that we are standing on right now used to be homes, houses, I wouldn’t even call them homes,” Olson said. “We’re going to call them houses that should have been torn down since they were in extreme repair.”

The houses turning into 100 lavender plants the first year.

“We had a lot of complaints because they had no idea what we were doing,” Manager of the lavender farm and College Hill resident William Butler said.

The initial complaints blossomed into a new outlook.

“It took a little while and the attitude started changing and we started having people asking questions,” Butler said.

From 100 plants the first year to 2,000 lavender plants this year, they’re now taking up blocks of the neighborhood.

The farm is even employing community members.

“We are still on the job,” Butler said. “We are improving this. They see a beautiful field. They may not know what it is, but it’s not trash”

The annual harvest happened in early June. The harvest was sold to Long Row Lavender in Wright City. The profits were plated back into the community, funding projects for the neighbors surronding the farm.

“You know we do roofs, and we help people with some of their flooring, and if their ceiling is coming in, so that they are able to stay in their homes,” Olson said.

To volunteer with harvesting or to donate email: ole20@att.net.

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