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Surrey’s secret lavender field

Who needs Provence, when we've got acres of lavender fields growing right here in Surrey? And from this weekend, the fragrant fields at Oak Tree Farm in Banstead are open to the public.

Oak Tree Farm sits just outside Banstead on the Croydon Lane – and it’s here where the botanicals are grown for local skincare company Naturally Thinking. The farm opens on Fri 10 July and welcomes visitors free of charge offering pick-your-own, lavender skincare products, refreshments including afternoon tea – and the wonderful opportunity to simply breath deep and enjoy the delicious and relaxing scent that hangs in the air.

You might not know it now, but Surrey was once covered in vast swathes of hazy blue aromatic herb.

The chalk soils, south facing aspects and mild climate around Mitcham, Banstead and Carshalton combine to create the perfect conditions for growing lavender, and for decades in the early 19th century it was lavender from fields around the area that supplied much of the world, including the quintessential English toiletries brands Yardley and Potter & Moore.

Sadly though disease eventually struck the English blooms and around this time French fashions become popular, and lavender fields in Provence grew in both number and prominence.

But English lavender is again having its moment – and Oak Tree Farm, along with other lavender farms in the area are part of the revival.

Oak Tree Farm

The farm is the work of local company, Naturally Thinking, which has been producing skincare products from Surrey lavender since 2004, originally as part the the Carshalton Lavender community project.

Born in Carshalton in 2000, Naturally Thinking is a family-run business producing skincare products for its own label as well as spas and brands across the UK and Europe. They also have a farm nearby on the Little Woodcote Estate where other herbs and botanicals – including rosemary, sage, thyme and burdock root – are grown for use in the skincare products.

The first lavender was planted at Oak Tree Farm in the spring of 2016, with the rest of the 25 acre site planted up by autumn the following year. It’s been a massive task – more than 100,000 lavender plants have been planted in total, over 10,000 of them by hand.

There are more than 450 different varieties of lavender in total, and at Oak Tree Farm the fields are planted up with Grosso Lavender, a vigorous English variety that produces exceptionally large and rich, deep violet flower spikes. It also produces one of the strongest fragrances of all the lavenders.

As well as taking a stroll through the heady lavender rows, visitors can take time to enjoy the views – in family groups – on hay seating arranged across the fields.

The farm equipment used to plough, cultivate, plant and maintain the fields will be on display, along with pictures and descriptions of how it works.

Kids will enjoy the easy 1km butterfly trail on the farm – where they can spot and count the butterflies across the farm and take part in the Big Butterfly Count.

There will be a pick-your-own lavender – the only lavender farm in the south of England to offer this – at just £3 for a big cut bundle.

Fancy cream tea in the field? Be my guest! As well as cakes, pastries, paninis and cream teas, there is gourmet tea and coffee.

And of course, Naturally Thinking skincare products made from the lavender will also be available – including shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, hand wash, hand cream, body lotion, body butter, bath milk handmade soap as well as linen spray and pillow spray – plus natural lavender essential oil. Honey is also produced in beehives kept in the fields, and this will also be available to buy.

Oak Tree Farm, 25 Croydon Lane, Banstead, SM7 3BE.
Open Mon to Fri, 10am to 5pm, Sat and Sun 9am to 5pm

naturallythinking.com

13 comments on “Surrey’s secret lavender field”

  • Sarah Dodge July 7, 2020

    Hello
    This sounds lovely.
    Do we need to book and do you offer afternoon tea as a oicnic style?
    A colleague Sam Peacock recommended your farm.

    Reply
    • amberevans July 7, 2020

      I don’t believe you need to book, Sarah. But there will be social distancing guidelines to follow once you are there, as well as preventative measures in place like the placement of hand sanitisers around the farm. I hope you enjoy your visit. XX

      Reply
  • Tracey July 8, 2020

    Is this Mayfield Lavender? If so, entry is £4 per person but if this has opened up next door and is free then that is great!

    Reply
    • amberevans July 8, 2020

      No, it’s not Mayfield Lavender. This field is called Oak Tree Farm – and it’s free!

      Reply
  • Liz July 8, 2020

    Hello. I’ve followed the carshalten lavender link above, which lead me to the Facebook page, which suggest the field is only open for harvesting/volunteering. Is there a different link to the farm?

    Reply
    • amberevans July 9, 2020

      Hi Liz. The new lavender farm is called Oak Tree Farm, it’s not Carshalton Lavender. Oak Tree Farm is part of Naturally Thinking, but I think their website is still yet to be updated with info about the new opening. It’s a small family-run business and they’ve been up against it a bit. Check out the Naturally Thinking facbook page – https://www.facebook.com/Naturallythinking/
      😊

      Reply
  • Teresa July 9, 2020

    Hi can I bring my small dog

    Reply
  • Catherine Rowlands July 12, 2020

    It’s very new and therefore a work in progress. It will be interesting to come back in 5 years and see how it’s developed but there’s not a right lot to see yet. I wish them luck as they are working hard to develop a pleasant spot.

    Reply
  • Carol July 23, 2020

    Very interesting article just a quick correction if you want to visit it’s Croydon Lane not Croydon Road. It’s not far from me I drive by this place to work.

    Reply
    • amberevans July 23, 2020

      Thanks for that Carol. XX

      Reply
  • Claire Johnson-Laird July 23, 2020

    It really is such a lovely friendly place with lots to explore. Great to see the beehives and pick up some local honey. Spot all the different butterflies on ‘butterfly hill’ and take a walk through the huge Christmas Trees and enjoy the view from the top. We are still amazed to be able to walk around Oak Tree farm on land that, as a local resident, you only ever seen from our windows! Such a treat and privilege to have on our doorstep. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Nigel Amor August 2, 2020

    A secret but not so secret secret is to park across the road from Mayfield Lavender in the car park of The Oaks, be careful to cross the busy road (there is a pedestrian crossing), and then go over the stile and onto the public footpath. You can walk through the middle of Mayfield Lavender. Enjoy for free, but stick to the footpath, of course.

    Reply
    • amberevans August 3, 2020

      Or, you can enjoy Oak Tree Farm lavender for free – it’s just down the road!

      Reply

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