You’ve seen their lavender products around town, and they have the prettiest farm around… Our next Big Little Biz blog post features Patty and George – the owners of Pageo Lavender Farm! We got to visit them at the farm and interview them about starting their business, becoming the go-to wedding venue, running a family-owned farm and of course – LAVENDER.
Okay, when did you guys start your farm?
Patty: Well, we started the farm in ‘98 when we purchased it. We purchased it knowing that we wanted to do something like an herb farm. We had visited this place in Connecticut, called Capriland. They were just a little herb farm and they had a restaurant on site. They would go pick fresh vegetables and herbs and things, and use them for breakfasts and lunches. There was a two-week waiting period to get into this restaurant! She [the owner of Capriland] had little gardens throughout: this is the rock garden, this is the succulent garden, this is the flower garden. It was quite fun and I thought that, if they can do it in Connecticut when there’s only three months of good weather, we could do it in California all year long.
George: In 2006, our youngest son, Josh, graduated from CSUS and we wanted to have a little party for him. We threw in the sod and poured the concrete and we had 50 friends and family out. Shortly after that, we had our first wedding here in 2007. When the bride first approached us to get married out here, I looked at Patty thinking, “Am I missing something?” Because, you know, it looked nice but it was just a nice yard. There wasn’t anything else here. So in about an eight or nine-month period, we constructed the gift shop. And two of the silos were given to us by some friends in Hilmar and they were hauled in.
P: We really pushed ourselves to get some things done for that wedding, and then we started having more weddings, and we started advertising that in 2010. But weddings were never our goal.
G: Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine doing this. You know, I thought we were going to have a lavender farm; I had no idea what lavender was 10 or 12 years ago. I knew it was some type of an herb, but the whole thing just kind of took off. I thought, “You know, this would be a nice form of retirement,” and I tell people I have never worked so hard in my life! But it’s all good! I have a family business where we work well together. We compliment each other. She’s the idea person; she points and I basically do.
How long have you been growing lavender here at the farm?
P: I actually have propagated tons of things at the farm. I think we started planting in 2007.
G: Do you want to know how we got our name?
It’s short for Patty and George; capital P, little g. I mean, *squeezes fingers together* really little. Yeah, ‘Geopa’ wouldn’t fly. I tried it, but it didn’t work.
How long did it take for you to figure out the name or was it pretty natural?
P: We tossed it around. We tossed all kinds of different names around. One thing that was very attractive about Pageo was that no one else had it on the Internet or anywhere. So we thought, “Oh, we’ll just go with that.”
What’s the biggest advantage to working with your family on your own business?
P: You’re always together. George and I have the same taste and it’s hard to beat.
G: Well, and we have the same goals; your goals become my goals.
P: The older we get, as we retire, you want to be with each other. We have our dogs and we’re out here in this lovely farm every day with each other. We do different things, but we’re always together.
G: It’s a nice routine.
What makes working a lavender farm different from working any other type of farm?
G: There’s no machinery or equipment involved as far as we’re concerned. I know in France they farm hundreds of acres and they have machinery that’s tailored to harvest the product, but here we only have a couple acres so it’s all done by hand with sickles.
P: Well you never know what to expect. Every day is different and it is seasonal. So it’s just like any farm, as far as the harvest and the growing is concerned. But after we harvest, we have all our products and our buds and our oils and everything. We can continue to make our products with it all year long.
G: The month of June is the busiest time of the year because we’re distilling as much as we can. We’ll use the distiller to get the essential oils and hydrosols out of it. And then the rest of it, we hang up to dry. Throughout the year we’ll pull it down, de-bud it, and then we incorporate it into soaps and lotions, or sachets or wedding favors.
So you do everything here on this property?
G: Everything is all done here.
P: We do.
G: And then we have weddings on the weekends.
Where do you find inspiration for all of your lavender products? Do you research them beforehand?
P: We research everything, and we look at other lavender farms to see what they’re doing too. We do research on what’s hot and popular. Like a while ago, all of a sudden everybody’s doing bath bombs and everybody wants them. You never know what is going to be hot or not.
Do you have a favorite product that you make here?
P: I’m partial to the lotions. I really like many of the lotions that we do have. The soaps are good too.
G: I’ve always liked ‘Naked in the Woods.’
P: We have a lotion called ‘Naked in the Woods.’ I don’t make it with any oil in it, but the soap and the linen spray do have oil in them.
G: People will ask me about the name, “How did you get Naked in the Woods?” And I just say, “You know, we tried ‘Naked in the Phone Booth,’ and it just wouldn’t sell.”
When did you start to notice your farm becoming a big venue versus just a lavender shop?
P: Well, when we first opened we thought we would need to have some revenue come in; it’s hard to make a living and support people with just products unless you’re selling to big stores. So we thought fast money that could help pay for everything we’re doing here would be events or weddings. Outdoor weddings had become popular so we thought, “Well, why don’t we see what we can do with that?”
How many weddings do you think you do in a year?
P: Approximately, we do about 45, I’d say.
G: We also do fundraisers out here – the Salvation Army (Moonlight and Margaritas) and Rotary Club October Fest. That is probably my highlight of the year.
Why do you think Pageo has been so successful in the Turlock community?
P: Well, we are very user friendly. We really try to take the time to be with people. Josh [our son] pampers every couple that comes out here. We go way beyond the call of duty for them and whatever they went. Josh has a great group and he makes sure everything’s done. He services them very well. George also does a lot of tours; we do get a lot of buses and tourists from all over. A lot of ladies come out for lunch and he’ll give them a tour, and he’s quite charming.
G: It really involves multi-tasking too. You find yourself doing all sorts of different things in one day, and we have DIGS in downtown Turlock and we try to keep up with their patio sales.
P: And one thing we thoroughly enjoy is meeting all these people from all over the world. Yesterday there was a gentleman here from China.
G: I also wanted to add that we have a lot of community support too from people in Turlock and we really appreciate that. That’s why we enjoy hosting the Salvation Army and the October Fest too.
What do you love about being part of HeyTurlock?
P: I’m just so impressed that two women had this little idea and just made it explode into such a fantastic advertising and branding company, and everything they’ve done with it. It’s just great. Just fantastic.
G: It makes us feel like we’re part of a community. We’re part of a family because HeyTurlock has created a network with everybody. They’ve connected all of these little businesses a lot of people might not have ever heard of if it weren’t for HeyTurlock. They’re the glue that kind of keeps everybody together.
Pageo Lavender Farm is located at 11573 Golf Road and is open Wednesday-Friday from 10am-4pm and Saturday from 9am-1pm.