UPDATE: Because of a very busy opening weekend, Mezza Luna will be open through June 7 instead of June 14 as originally planned.
Lourdes Santos didn't grow up on a farm. She hasn't always had a big garden in her life, especially as she traveled the world with her kids and her husband, who is in the military.
As a child, however, she did work with her own mother on a food truck in Puerto Rico. So that's, in part, why she finds herself living on a lavender farm at the edge of Wake and Chatham counties.
"I thought this would be neat to work with my kids and they are actually loving it," she tells me.
Santos will open up her small family farm to the public from May 29 through June 7. At Mezza Luna Lavender Farm, with an Apex address, the public is invited to bring a picnic, take pictures, harvest some lavender, buy some lavender items and take part in activities for kids such as fingernail painting, crafts, cornhole, baseball, bubbles and more. She even has cookies and Mezza Luna lavender ice cream, which is made locally by Fresh ice cream in Raleigh, for sale.
Mezza Luna is definitely a family affair. Santos' daughters, who are homeschooled, help out with the activities for kids. Her son, who attends Cardinal Gibbons High School this year after being homeschooled, helps guide traffic and other logistics.
The family arrived in the Triangle about six years ago. They moved into a nearby neighborhood, but the empty field where the farm is located and the family now lives caught the eye of Santos and her husband.
"I just fell in love with the field," she said. "There was nothing. It was just an open field."
When they lived in Germany, the family had traveled to Provence, famous for its fields of lavender. Santos, whose true love is actually sunflowers, picked the fragrant plant because deer have no interest in it, she said. The next few years involved a steep learning curve and some trial and error, said Santos, who has her doctorate in industrial psychology.
Last spring, she opened up the farm to the public to test the interest and see what happened. In the fall, the family moved into the large white house they built on the property, which will make it easier for them to greet visitors and sell their products. No longer do they have to set up and then pack up tents and other items.
Don't expect a huge swath of lavender when you go. Santos has about 1,500 lavender plants of about a dozen different varieties. Some are deep purple, others are less striking, but more fragrant. Santos can tell you all about the different varieties, pointing out which ones are best for cooking and which ones are best for oils and fragrances.
She also can tell you that she can't make lavender bloom on her schedule. Some plants are ready for picking now. Others will be ready over the next two weeks.
But she's happy to open up her small farm to the public. She envisions families spending a casual few hours here with picnics, lavender picking and activities for kids.
"It's a lot of work," she tells me. But, she said, "it's fun."
Mezza Luna Lavender Farm is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily, from May 29 to June 7. You can harvest your own lavender for $10 a bunch or buy a pre-picked batch for $12. She also has lavender soap, sachets, ice cream, cookies and more for sale. It's free to visit the farm, which is at 1850 New Hope Church Rd. in Apex.