Healthy Concepts

All of us have things in life that we love doing: spending time with friends, being outdoors, shopping, reading and the list goes on! Have you ever found something that sparked your curiosity and at the same time made you fearful to try it? Why do we let fear stop us? We are afraid of messing up, afraid of being embarrassed in front of others or afraid of failing. So instead we don’t do that thing that we want to try and lose out on many life experiences. Everyone at some point in their life experiences fear in some way and you just have to learn how to face it head on.

Being a pole and aerial arts instructor I hear many stories from students on how they were scared to try pole and the aerial arts, but after they tried it they fell in love with the sport! When I go out in public with my Aerial Dance clothes on, I have many women ask me about pole and they seem so excited and curious about it. I take the time to talk to them and they usually respond with “I am too scared,” “I am not strong or flexible enough,” “I don’t have the right body type for pole,” and “I have to find someone to go with me.” It makes my heart hurt when women put themselves down and don’t believe that they are capable of anything they set their minds to. I encourage them to come try some of our classes so that they can see that this is a sport for everyone! Pole and aerial will help build strength, flexibility and most of all confidence! We need to be confident in our choices in life and what we want to do. If we let fear stop us from doing things, we will never grow and learn.

Fear keeps us from moving forward, it keeps us stuck in our same old routines every day. If you find yourself sitting there with your lists or goals for the day and not really acting on them, do you know why? When I am struggling with a move at the studio or see my students struggling, I notice that it’s a lack of motivation that is coming from a lack of confidence that keeps them from doing it. The fear of failing consumes them but then I go over and encourage them to try it, reassuring them that it is OK to fail, it’s OK to grow at your own pace and they try it and they get it in time!

When I don’t move forward it is usually because I am afraid of failing, afraid that I’ll disappoint people around me. Too often I have let fear stop me from doing things and frankly I am sick of it. Many people and students tell me that because of my strength background with growing up on a farm and becoming a personal trainer that pole and aerial come easy for me. That’s false! I struggle with things daily when I am practicing. I have my goals written down but the motivation is lacking to reach those goals. Lately, I have been reminding myself of why I started pole — it was for myself and no one else. Several years ago I looked into joining some pole studios in Hawaii and I didn’t because I was scared to do it alone. I remember looking at the websites and seeing the heels and I was immediately fearful that it was not the sport for me, but I was still curious. When I moved back to Wisconsin I started looking for a studio and I found Aerial Dance! With being more fitness based, no heels, I immediately signed up even though it is an hour and a half from where I lived. Where did that fearful feeling go that I initially had in Hawaii? How did I just forget about all of the things that I was scared of? The judgement? The failing? I believe it was a glimmer of confidence that finally started to come out.

So if you find something that you have always wanted to try that you are scared or fearful of trying but still curious — do it! You never know where it will lead you in life. You may just find yourself and that confidence that you have been looking for. 

In the Fox Cities, we are fortunate to live in an area with easy access to water fun. Activities such as going to the beach, fishing and swimming are often on the agenda for most families. According to the Centers for Disease Control drowning is listed as the leading cause of death in children ages 1-4, and about 10 people die from unintentional drowning every day. There are ways we can keep our children and ourselves safe around the water. Programs like the YMCA of the Fox Cities’ Safety Around Water provides life-saving skills to children who would not normally have the opportunity to participate in swim lessons. The skills taught are not just applicable to the participants but anyone who is spending time around the water:

  • Jump, Push, Turn, Grab: A way to get back to the side of the pool when you are in water where you cannot touch.
  • Swim, Float, Swim: A technique used to help you catch your breath while swimming so that you can safely get to the nearest exit point.

Water safety should be important to all swimmers, no matter ability level. There are simple steps you can take each time you are near or entering water to ensure you have a fun and safe experience.

Ask permission

Children should ask permission from a parent or responsible adult before entering any body of water. The importance of this simple action is to be aware when your child is entering the water.

Never swim alone

Even if you are an expert swimmer, it is important to remember that you should never swim alone. Children should always have an adult swimming with them, but for adults, it is also important to have someone swimming with you. You never know when a problem will arise, and it is best to be prepared for anything.

Active adult supervision

The most effective defense in preventing drownings of any kind, especially with children, is active adult supervision. Whether you are swimming at a pool with lifeguards or in your own backyard, you can keep yourself and your children safe by staying aware. Parents need to be in the water with their children, even if the kids can swim. Always know where your child is and what they are doing. Waterparks and pools can be fun but there is often a lot going on, and while there are lifeguards, there are also many people. You are your child’s best protection when it comes to water safety.

Personal flotation device

Life jackets are for everyone, not just non-swimmers! Life jackets are worn on boats or while fishing, but they can also be worn in the pool by non-swimmers and even by young children that know how to swim. Make sure that your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved and appropriate for your desired activity.

Take the time to educate yourself and your children about how to be safe in and around the water. Following these simple guidelines will help you and your family enjoy all of the water activities offered in our area. 

Reference: “Unintentional Drownings: Get the facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

India Arie’s song “Break the Shell” poetically frames the transformational journey from loneliness to deep connection:

“Courage is not being hard

It’s time to peel back all of the layers

You put between who you’re meant to be

And who you are

And go be who you are”

What we commonly label as loneliness is often alienation from our true, deeper self. Our society teaches us to look outward for our self and security — instant gratification on smart phones, our sense of worth from Facebook likes, consuming new and hip products, and decorating our bodies, homes and resumes with the right accessories. This disconnection usually is held in our sub-conscious; a forgetting of our “true self.” Richard Rohr tells us that our DNA is divine, that our core remembers our truth and it’s waiting to be noticed and fulfilled. He encourages us to foster this by pairing our loneliness with our true self. R. Rohr calls this the ultimate homecoming.

He goes on to offer us a promise: “I promise you that the discovery of your true self will feel like a thousand pounds of weight have fallen from your back. You will no longer have to build, protect or promote any idealized self-image.” Could this be the key to shifting the human condition of loneliness that actually unlocks the direction to true connection?

Let’s reverse the propensity to look outward for escape from loneliness and instead turn inward, greeting loneliness as one of humanity’s oldest friends and wisest teachers. This path of coming back to being our own best friend, remembering our true self as part of the divine, can transform loneliness into profound, everlasting connection.

Dr. Daniel Siegel proposes that based on extensive neurophysiological research that brain development and mind are where beliefs of self, life, relationships — with self and others — and worthiness are formed. In his latest book, “Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human” he states that where we put our attention is where neural pathways grow and are fed. This pivotal research information, now globally accepted, proves that our brain has plasticity. This means that we can change/heal our neural pathways to healthier, more authentic states of functioning and, therefore, of experiencing life.

“All you need is already within you, only you must approach yourself with reverence and love.” —Sri Nisargadatta

There are numerous simple tools available to assist us in transforming our loneliness to connection.

  1. Come back to our breath: Take a moment or two throughout the day to stop and notice the in-breath and the out-breath. This simple technique is very powerful. It brings us back into connection with our body, with our internal being.
  2. Forgiveness leads to self-love: Forgiveness doesn’t always mean saying something was/is OK. It can be letting go of the energy/emotion/pain to make space for freedom in oneself.
  3. Yoga: A mindful way to come back to self, gently taking care of our physical vessel, practicing positive thoughts, releasing energies and beliefs that no longer serve our highest good.
  4. Re-wiring our neural pathways: Reading and watching positive things, seeking out and having positive experiences and relationships, shifting our negative thoughts to loving thoughts.
  5. Being open and willing to know the divine within.
  6. Reiki: Healing energy that assists in balancing our energetic body, releasing unwanted energies, offering of healing.

Bringing these into our daily lives creates a deeper and more expansive sense of freedom and open heartedness. This life-long adventure can be filled with expansion, self-love, ease and significantly less loneliness. Ahhh the freedom to be and experience life more fully and joyfully! Along this journey of “true self” we are taken to the deepest and most wonderful connections! 

I am the owner of Natural Expressions. I gave my business that name because everything I do expresses my view of what is natural as opposed to artificial. My business is located in a very natural setting, with my property just north of Plamann Park.

Artificial fertilizer, pesticides and even artificial food ingredients have been around a long time. At least two generations have never experienced what is natural. Natural food is very important for our physical health. Science is now relearning how important nature is to our emotional health as well. Human health has declined in the last 50 years. We live longer because of drugs that can keep us alive. Although older, we are sicker. My goal has been to be older and healthy.

My passion is natural expression of everything, including gardening. Every chance I get to “express the natural” and how to achieve it, I jump at the opportunity.

I have that chance and I would like to invite the readers of Nature’s Pathways to participate. As a member of The Paper Valley Garden Club, I have offered to hold the club meeting at my Natural Expressions location. I would like to invite all readers to attend the meeting. The meeting will include a tour of my organic garden and a presentation about the importance of and how to garden organically for our health and the health of our planet, as well as how you can become an organic gardener too.

The meeting is Monday, September 11 starting at 6 p.m. with a social and of course healthy snacks provided by Natural Expressions, followed by a tour and presentation. Questions are welcome. The meeting will be over by 8 p.m.

Please call 920-954-9727 to let us know you are coming. The location is 825 E Broadway Drive, on the north side of Plamann Park: take Meade Street north to Fox Valley High School, and turn right at the next corner by the Plamann Park sign. I look forward to seeing you! 

Nutritious diets are essential to long-term pet health. Many well-intentioned pet owners feed their pets foods they believe are nutritious, only to learn that certain foods, even those deemed healthy for humans, can be quite dangerous to dogs and cats.

Cats and dogs metabolize foods and other substances differently from humans. WebMD reports that each year, there are more than 100,000 cases of pet poisoning in the United States. Many of these instances were caused by household substances that may seem perfectly harmless. Medications, cleaning products and certain foods can poison pets. Dogs tend to be at higher risk for food poisoning, particularly because they are less discriminatory with regard to food.

Before caving into the temptation to share snacks with their pets, pet owners should recognize the common foods the ASPCA and other pet welfare organizations list as the most likely to contribute to pet poisonings worldwide.

Chocolate: Chocolate is accountable for roughly one-quarter of all toxic exposures. Chocolate contains methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause excessive thirst and urination, panting, vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythm, and seizures. Serious cases can be fatal. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are especially dangerous for pets.

Grapes/raisins: Grapes, raisins, sultanas, and currants, whether raw or cooked, can cause kidney failure in dogs. Not all dogs are affected. However, these fruits should be avoided. Symptoms include lethargy, diarrhea and vomiting within 24 hours of consumption.

Hops: Commonly used for brewing beer, hops have become a greater risk for pets now that home brewing as a hobby or side business has become popular. When ingested, hops can cause a rapid heart rate, anxiety, vomiting, and other abdominal symptoms. Essential oils and tannins in hops also can cause high fever when pets ingest them.

Macadamia nuts: These nuts can cause depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia in dogs.

Milk and dairy: Do not give dogs and cats milk to lap up, and avoid giving them high amounts of cheese and other dairy foods. Pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk. Therefore, diarrhea and digestive upset is likely to occur when pets consume dairy.

Onions/garlic: These aromatic ingredients are not a good idea for pets, particularly cats. Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate, which is toxic to cats and dogs. The ingestion of onions and onion-related foods can cause a condition called hemolytic anemia. This is damage to red blood cells that causes the cells circulating throughout the pet’s body to burst.

Xylitol: Keep pets away from sugarless gums and candies that contain Xylitol, which also may be used in toothpaste. The substance causes insulin to release in most species, which can lead to liver failure.

Pet owners should be aware that the foods they eat regularly may not be safe for their pets. Always consult with a veterinarian before giving pets foods commonly eaten by humans. 

Source: MetroCreative Connection.

Women’s bodies are built different from men’s to accommodate the changes of pregnancy and childbirth. Although women may store fat differently and have less muscle mass than men, it’s still important that women include weight resistance training in their exercise routines.

Lifting weights is an important part of staying fit. Yet many women do not pick up weights out of fear of bulking up and gaining weight. In a 2011 opinion poll conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 20 percent of women said they accomplished the CDC’s recommended 2.5 hours of aerobic exercise and two periods of strength training each week.

Contrary to popular belief, women who weight train will not turn into the bulking behemoths of competitive weight lifting. The Women’s Heart Foundation says that high levels of estrogen make it quite difficult for women to become overly muscular. When they strength train, rather, women’s muscles will improve in tone, endurance and strength instead of size.

Resistance training provides an efficient way to build strength and burn calories. A study from researchers at the University of New Mexico found that the body will take between 15 minutes and 48 hours after exercise to return to a resting state. That means that a person continues to burn calories after exercising, a phenomenon known as “after-burn” or “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.” The more intense the workout, the longer the after-burn may last.

Studies performed at the Quincy, Mass., South Shore YMCA found that the average woman who strength trains two to three times a week for two months will gain nearly two pounds of muscle, but lose 3.5 pounds of fat. With that lean muscle addition, resting metabolism increases and more calories can be burned each day.

The following are some additional benefits of strength training:

  • Reduces risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol.
  • Builds stronger muscles and connective tissues that can increase joint stability.
  • Improves the way the body processes sugar, which can help reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • Reduces rates of depression — a Harvard University study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling. Women who strength train commonly report feeling more confident and capable.

Women with no strength training experience can consult with a personal trainer who can teach them proper strength training form. This ensures that the exercises are being done efficiently while reducing the women’s risk of injury. Qualified trainers also can keep people moving toward fitness goals. 

Source: MetroCreative Connection.

As we enter the end of summer, the hot sun is high in the sky for a better part of the day, and the bugs seem to come from every direction. Prevention can be our best tool to avoid dehydration, burns, bites, stings, and rashes that can zap our energy and lesson our enjoyment of summer. Thankfully, we have several herbs to remedy any issue that may arise.

A delicious and easy way to stay hydrated and refreshed during the summer months is to keep a homemade electrolyte replacement drink in the refrigerator. It will replenish the minerals and salt lost from sweating after a hard day’s work, sports activity or a long day in the garden. Try this recipe at home with several variations. Swap regular ice cubes with frozen berries to add extra flavor, and add up to two tablespoons of fresh lemon, lime or orange juice.

Electrolyte Balance Drink

Recipe by Aviva Romm

  1. 1 quart of water or herbal tea
  2. 1-2 tablespoons of local, raw honey
  3. ¼ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
  4. ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  5. Mix and drink as needed.

Another discomfort that seems to creep up quickly for most people is sunburn. It’s best to avoid the outdoors when the sun is highest in the sky (from about 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.). Otherwise, wearing a wide brim hat, light pants or long sleeves is beneficial to avoid burning during those hours. Using a natural sunscreen with zinc oxide is beneficial while at the pool or beach (reapply often). Engaging in outdoor activities in the early evening is most pleasant and helpful in avoiding the hot sun.

In case of a burn, the most widely known remedy, for good reason, is aloe vera. The fresh plant can easily be grown indoors and used at a moment’s notice. Cut off a leaf, slice it down the middle to expose the slimy gel inside and apply to the burn several times a day. It is cooling, soothing and healing to the skin. Store the extra gel remaining in the leaf in the refrigerator for up to a week. Lavender hydrosol is also very beneficial for sunburns for its cooling and healing properties. The essential oil can also be used diluted in fresh aloe vera gel or witch hazel. Calendula and St. John’s Wort oils or salves are remarkable for skin healing and regeneration after a burn.

Further, mosquitoes and flies can become quite an instant nuisance. Prevention is crucial when trying to avoid the itchy mosquito bite aftermath, especially for those who get large, swollen bite marks. Lavender, rosemary, peppermint, sage, wormwood or thyme all contain bug repelling properties, and can be infused into vinegar to make a homemade bug repellent. Add two tablespoons of several of these herbs to a quart jar and cover with apple cider vinegar. Let sit for at least two weeks. Strain and pour into a spray bottle. Use as needed and apply often. Catnip oil, oil of citronella or lemon eucalyptus hydrosol can be added to your recipe and are approved by the FDA for insect repellent. Light clothing and mosquito netting is appropriate for children under two years old.

Several fresh herbs can be used to stop the itchiness and relieve the inflammation attributed to a bite. Plantain is the most notable herb for bites, stings and rashes of all kinds. The fresh plant can be used immediately by harvesting a clean, unsprayed leaf, chewing it up thoroughly or mashing it with a utensil and applying it directly to the area. Other bite relief herbal salves made with jewelweed, plantain, calendula, chickweed or St. John’s wort can be prepared ahead of time and carried along for hikes and camping adventures. Clay can also be mixed with a small amount of water and applied directly to the skin for bites or rashes. The drawing action is helpful to relieve the irritation and swelling. Likewise, calendula tincture can be used alone as a spray on bites and stings, it is soothing and anti-inflammatory.

Many herbs in the home landscape can be used to prevent bug bites or stings, as well as to address them. If you’re new to gardening or have an edible landscape, consider growing any of the plants mentioned above. They will provide you with a toolkit to weather many ailments that may arise this summer. 


Many of the articles available on hormones and hormone replacement therapy focus on the obvious and uncomfortable symptoms of imbalanced hormones: hot flashes, night sweats, foggy brain, erection dysfunction and moodiness. These symptoms are really “in our faces” and they demand attention because of their uncomfortableness. However, there are foundational systems and processes in our body that can be silent until big damage is done. The reality is that every cell in our body requires hormones. They are the chemical instructions our body creates to tell individual cells and groups of cells what they are supposed to be doing. Here are three major systems in the body and how our sex hormones — estrogen, progesterone and testosterone — affect these systems.

Hormones and bones

Sex hormones are very important in regulating the growth of our skeletal system and maintaining mass and strength of our bones. Estrogen stimulates bone formation and plays a crucial role in closing the growth plates. (Growth plates are areas of growing tissue near the ends of long bones in children and adolescents. When they stop growing, the growth plates are “closed” and replaced by solid bone.) Testosterone stimulates muscle growth, which puts greater stress on our bones and also increases bone formation. Testosterone is also converted into estrogen in our fat cells, creating a secondary source of estrogen in our bodies to help strengthen the bones.

Hormone imbalance effect on bones

Osteoporosis, probably the most recognizable of the bone diseases, is more common in post-menopausal women because of their lower estrogen levels. Lower testosterone levels are also connected to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is characterized by a weakening in bone strength that leads to a higher risk of bone fractures. Osteoporosis also causes loss of height, loss of mobility and can be painful.

Hormones and your heart

When it comes to our heart and cardiovascular system, balance of sex hormones is key. Each of these hormones provides benefits at the appropriate level, but higher or lower than the physiologic dose can lead to big trouble. Estrogen has been known to increase HDL (the good cholesterol), lower LDL (the bad cholesterol) and relaxes and dilates blood vessels, increasing blood flow and reducing the risk of a heart attack. Progesterone reduces the risks of blood clots and heart attacks by normalizing blood clotting and constriction of the blood vessels. Testosterone helps to widen blood vessels and improve vascular reactivity and blood flow. It is important to note that testosterone has had some controversial research results when levels of testosterone get too high. This is when balance is crucial. Too much testosterone can lead to metabolites that are dangerous and can actually increase the risk of heart disease. According to The North American Menopause Society, age and time since menopause are critical considerations of the effect of hormone therapy, with more favorable effects noted for women between age 50-59 and within 10 years of time of menopause when starting hormone therapy.

Hormone imbalance effect on your heart

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of both men and women worldwide. It is related to the process of atherosclerosis in which plaque builds up in the arteries, the artery walls become thicker and blood flow is reduced. There are many lifestyle and nutritional factors involved in heart disease, and balance hormones definitely play a role, as well.

Hormones and your brain

Estrogen in women is known to work on the hypothalamus in the brain, affecting ovulation and reproductive behavior. Estrogens maintain the function of key neural structures and the production of serotonin and dopamine. It affects mood, memory, emotions and motor skills. According to Advances in Pharmacology, estrogen therapy provided at the right time (before the onset of Alzheimer’s) also has been shown to reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer’s. Progesterone plays an important role in protecting and repairing the brain. In fact, progesterone is classified as a “neurosteroid” because of its critical functions in the nervous system. Progesterone actually promotes the growth of the insulating layer called the myelin sheath that protects the nerve fibers and are essential to a properly functioning nervous system. It is a standard treatment in traumatic brain injuries. Progesterone also eases anxiety and facilitates memory and improved cognitive function. Properly balanced testosterone in males has been associated with improved cognitive performance and verbal and visual memory. It has also been shown to increase brain tissue preservation and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Hormone imbalance effect on your brain

Low estrogen leads to a decline in cognitive function, declarative memory and motor coordination, and there is an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Low progesterone levels in pregnant women can lead to developmental problems for the child. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, low levels of testosterone can lead to cognitive decline and increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

As you can see, the natural decline of our sex hormones as we age has a greater effect on our bodies than most people realize. The obvious symptoms of hot flashes, moodiness and erectile dysfunction are just the tip of the iceberg. Even if you don’t have the obvious symptoms of imbalanced hormones, damage can be occurring to essential body functions without your knowledge. This is one of the reasons hormone testing is recommended as part of an accurate diagnosis. It helps to develop a clearer picture of what is happening inside your body. Visit a provider who can help you decide what is the best treatment for your hormonal health! 

References: “Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).” World Health Organization.

“Estrogen regulation of mitochondrial bioenergetics: Implications for prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.” Advances in Pharmacology. Yao J Brinton RD.

“Increased Risk of Dementia in Patients with Erectile Dysfunction.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Chun-Ming Yang, MD.

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There are few things that conjure up a universally pleasant response; thus, they get all the glory. It’s easy when the object can be used in virtually any and every capacity: as a sweet and savory food product, an herb, a popular essential oil, a simple yet satisfying scent, a charming piece of décor, a calming agent, and so much more. It begs the question, “Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?”

Not when it comes to lavender.

It’s something Scott Sonoc and his wife Marsha Williams know firsthand. The owners of Island Lavender Company, they planted the first commercial lavender fields on Washington Island on the newly renovated Historic Island Dairy property in the spring of 2013 and haven’t looked back since.

Situated five miles from the tip of the peninsula of Door County, the Island Lavender Company is a working lavender farm specializing in the cultivation of hearty organic lavender plants to be used to make the highest grade lavender products.

Scott explains that the Island Lavender Company farm has been designed to blend in with the existing character of Washington Island’s Scandinavian heritage promoting agricultural entrepreneurship, specifically celebrating lavender grown in the United States. The property includes a hand built, carved Viking Temple featuring birds, snakes and nature. The lavender market is housed in the restored 100-year-old Historic Island Dairy, a special island location featuring an exhibit of the dairy when it operated from 1917 to 1960.

And this year, they’ve expanded their beloved store to include a location in mainland Ephraim, Door County.

“It came primarily because of customers’ demand,” Marsha explains. “We discovered a fantastic building in North Ephraim that really enables us to show both the wide array of products we have as well as an entire exhibit area devoted to explaining how we process lavender.”

Located on the north edge of Ephraim in the historic big red barn just before entering into Sister Bay on Highway 42, Island Lavender Company’s additional locale allows Scott and Marsha to share their love of lavender and all it is capable of within their array of products and also in the form of graphics, exhibits and educational material — including lavender recipes for guests to try at home.

An extraordinary commitment to quality

The natural growing and harvesting procedure is one that Island Lavender Company takes seriously and procures products of the highest quality, becoming the standard for superiority due to each step in their process being so thoughtfully and diligently executed.

“We do everything by hand,” Scott says. “From the planting to the trimming to the harvesting.”

Lavender bundles are harvested by hand with a sickle, and dried in a barn while buds are stripped and separated from the stems in a custom-designed machine. Dried lavender buds go through the filtering process two to three times to ensure grit is removed, while lavender buds headed for culinary purposes are sifted more than five times and sent to a specially engineered stainless steel still to produce the highest quality food grade lavender essential oil.

It’s all based on the philosophy that excellence is reached when time and attention is paid to make it so; however, there’s something notably lacking in Island Lavender Company’s method: chemicals, pesticides and unnecessary additions during the growing process. Island Lavender Company is a completely natural lavender farm.

“We have an opportunity to focus on the need to protect the environment on various levels,” Scott says. “We don’t use pesticides or any kind of artificial fertilizers. Rainwater and sunshine is it. We work with the environment instead of against it.”

They’re natural components found typically in summer in Wisconsin, and lavender cultivation works exceptionally well in the area in all four of its diverse seasons. Hibernating in the winter, lavender begins growing in spring and flowers in mid-July. There are a number of variations, of which Island Lavender Company grows 16, primarily Lavandula Angustifolia, or English Lavender.

“We get so many comments from people who walk in our doors and just take a deep breath and say, ‘Oh I feel relaxed just being here,’” Marsha laughs. “It’s kind of a path of discovery. We’ve got information panels about lavender and how we process lavender throughout the whole store. People wander and they read the information panels and are able to get a good sense about what the lavender business entails.”

Island Lavender Company’s products are handmade in Wisconsin, with a number of them being done in-house by Scott, Marsha and their team. Travel pillows, neck wraps and salves are among some of the hundreds of products handmade and hand labeled.

“Our soaps, lotions and our body mists and room sprays are extremely popular,” Marsha says. “In fact, we offer free shipping to every state in the union — all over the United States. But it’s also nice to pop in and pick something up, and we always offer free food samples!”

The versatility and array of products — both edible and not for consumption — vary greatly; however, Scott and Marsha make it their task to keep one thing in mind for all of them.

“We try to primarily deal with small family-owned businesses,” Marsha explains. “It’s really quite fun, we have cultivated wonderful relationships with various suppliers to whom we supply our own lavender culinary oil and then they use that in making the products. Our food products are all made by professional food manufacturers and they use our lavender.

“The chocolates are really amazing. We have a wonderful chocolate supplier based in Port Washington. He’s really an artist who uses a very high quality cocoa. We have great lavender granola that’s made here in Door County: Lavender Cherry Granola, Lavender Blueberry Granola, Lavender Vanilla Granola and Lavender Dark Chocolate Granola.”

Everything from lavender gelato, lavender infused coffee and teas in a number of varieties like Lavender Crème Brulee, Lavender Grogg and Lavender Chocolate Mint, as well as jams and jellies perfect for the flavor — sweet but also herbal — are available and perhaps make up more of the traditional side of Island Lavender Company’s selection. Lavender seasoned salt and Lavender Balsamic Vinegar from Italy are a couple that Marsha says are very special.

“Lavender Caramel Corn is another one that people are excited about,” she says. “It’s really good and pairs amazingly well with a glass of red wine.

“I love asking customers about how they’re going to use our products. We meet a lot of fascinating people from all over the world. We’re very happy to be here, and we try and make sure people have fun.”

Celebrate with Island Lavender Company!

Join Island Lavender Company daily for the entire month of July to celebrate the Fourth Annual Island Lavender Blooming Festival

Featuring interactive and educational activities — all of which are free! — the Fourth Annual Island Lavender Blooming Festival is celebrated both at the Ephraim, Door County location and on Washington Island.

It’s an especially long festival, Scott explains, following the natural cycle of the lavender plant. Buds begin to bloom in the beginning of July and last through the entire month.

“It’s pretty to look at, fun to walk through and is really aromatic,” he says. “We are working in the lavender fields daily during the festival so you can have your questions answered about how to grow lavender, how lavender can be used in your daily activities and how we transform our lavender harvests.”

Focusing on and bringing attention and awareness to protecting the environment is also important to Island Lavender Company’s core mission, and that includes more than the growing of the versatile plant itself.

“Part of the whole cycle is the idea of pollination and bees,” Scott says. “We have an exhibit in Ephraim with a full size beehive showing how honey is gathered and produced. It really becomes an educational component throughout the month.”

During the festival guests are encouraged to interact with visiting artists who have also made it their artistic passion to protect the environment, the honey bee community and the wonder of lavender. Watch and converse with the artists as they discover the magic of the lavender fields in their compositions and artwork.

“One of the artists paints with beeswax,” Marsha explains. “She’ll be demonstrating her technique and selling her art. We have a jewelry maker joining us and a potter who creates lavender designs. We’re leaning toward the arts and expanding both the lavender focus, pollination and saving the bees.”

“All of our events are free, and there are no entrance or special activity fees at the Island Lavender Company because our goal is to heighten public awareness of the many outstanding qualities of this incredible plant,” Scott adds.

All activities are available daily in the month of July between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at both the Ephraim and Washington Island locations. 

A happy, healthy environment for all

The Island Lavender Company is distinguished by being a working lavender farm cultivating healthy hearty lavender plants specifically for the very cold winter seasons of Northern Wisconsin. Scott and Marsha provide housing for many of their employees, as well as pay a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour.

“We have a commitment to quality — in how we treat our employees, our customers, the environment and how we make our products. We take it very seriously. It’s about the little details and we really try to get those right.” —Marsha Williams

Island Lavender Company

10432 Water Street, Ephraim


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“Our deep respect for the land and its harvest is the legacy of generations of farmers who put food on our tables,preserved our landscape and inspired us with a powerful work ethic.” —James H. Douglas, Jr.

June 21 marks the official start of summer, the beginning of three wonderful months of warm breezes and sunny days (we hope!) ahead. It’s a great time to stroll fairs and festivals, peruse farmers markets, and embrace refreshing recipes using locally sourced food. Below are great tips to make the most of visiting our local farms!

Maximize your farmers market trips

Community-based farmers markets can introduce shoppers to an array of foods they may otherwise never experience. Farmers markets are great places to find fresh, locally grown foods, and many market customers are happy to know they›re benefitting both the environment and local businesses with every dime they spend.

Farmers markets can range from the very large to the relatively small, and first-time visitors may not know where to begin. The following are a handful of ways to maximize your visit to farmers markets of all sizes.

  • Take time to explore. Farmers markets tend to have many of the same fruits and vegetables you can find at the local chain grocery store, but farmers markets also are known for offering more than what you may find in the produce aisle. Take time to explore the market and you may just find foods you typically only find at your favorite restaurant. Exploring also may introduce you to new foods you may otherwise never have tried.
  • Consider the timing of your visit. The popularity of farmers markets has increased dramatically as more and more people embrace the concept of buying locally grown foods. While that›s great news for the planet and local farmers, shoppers should keep that in mind when planning their visits. If you love trying new foods, arrive early to the farmers market before the more unique offerings have been snapped up. Foods that have small yet devoted followings may not be available in abundance, and you may end up leaving empty-handed if you arrive late. If it›s a bargain you want, then visit later in the day when farmers with substantial remaining inventory may be more inclined to lower their prices.
  • Know your seasons. Some fruits and vegetables are better at certain times of the year than others. Freshness draws many people to farmers markets, and foods that are in-season are more likely to have that unforgettable freshness than those that are out of season or nearing the end of their season. Knowing the seasons is important for budget-conscious shoppers as well. If you›re shopping on a budget, purchasing foods while they›re in-season may save you some money, and you can always stock up on your other favorites later on when it›s their turn to be in-season.
  • Speak with the sellers. First-time farmers market shoppers may feel like they're lost in the woods while everyone else seems to know exactly what they want and where to get it. If you find the farmers market somewhat intimidating, speak with the sellers. Shopping at the local farmers market tends to be more intimate than shopping at the chain grocery store, and many sellers would be happy to offer you some tips and make some suggestions based on the meals you like.

Farmers markets are great places to support local businesses and find fresh foods. 


Check out these local CSA farm share programs!


Where to find:

Types of shares:

Featured items:

About the farm:

Burr Oak Gardens, LLC

W5511 County Road B, Rio


CSA pick up sites located near Appleton North High School and at Goodwill North Central Wisconsin in Menasha on Thursdays, June 15 through October 26 (20-week season).

Mini share, Basic share, Double share, Double Every-other-week and Late Fall Storage share.

Fruits, vegetables, herbs. Honey available as an add-on in the fall.

We are certified organic through Midwest Organic Services Assocation (MOSA). We have been delivering to the Fox Cities since 2010. Our farm uses sustainable practices to produce wonderful vegetables and a few annual fruits that are suitable for growing in Wisconsin. We are always astonished by what mother nature does with a little rain, a little soil and a lot of light.

Field Notes Farm

1579 Church Street, Stevens Point


Downtown Appleton Farm Market, Saturdays 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.;

Future Neenah Farm Market, Saturdays 8 a.m.-noon;

Downtown Stevens Point Farm Market, Saturdays 8 a.m.-1 p.m.;

Pulse Young Professional's Bazaar After Dark.

Every week and every other week pick up, mid-June through mid-November.

Summer season is 18 weeks + 4 weeks of fall storage season. Each share is 3/4 bushel with 9, 11, 18 or 22-week pickups.

Work shares and Farm Artist shares available.

A variety of 8-15 household favorite vegetables each week, including weekly herb and

occasional fruits and apple cider.

We are certified organic and take pride in farming with a focus on soil health, building community and transparency. Each share features a newsletter with a story from the farmers, a list of the share's contents and simple recipes. We also have an orchard of peach, plum, pear and apricots. In the fall, we press apple cider to be fermented. We have a 5-month payment plan for our shares. Pick up sites in Appleton, Neenah, Amherst, Stevens Point and Plover.

Good Earth Farm

W8965 Oak Center Road, Oakfield


Fond du Lac Downtown Saturday Market from 8 a.m.-noon.

Summer season CSA: Weekly Large, Medium, Small and Every-other-week shares from June through October.

Winter season CSA: November through February.

Mushroom shares and fruit add-ons available. Weekly newsletter, The ComPost, with news from the farm, great vegetable info, recipes and more!

We are a certified organic vegetable farm offering vegetable shares to the Fox Valley and surrounding areas. Our CSA is a fantastic opportunity to eat with the seasons and purchase locally from farmers who use sustainable and environmentally responsible farming methods. We offer many opportunities to see where your food grows, meet the farmers and have fun on the farm!

Oakridge Farms

125 County Road CB, Neenah


Appleton Downtown Farm Market, Saturdays 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Standard share, Half share and Market share.

Fruits and vegetables.

We are a family farm growing fruits and vegetables using sustainable farming methods. We focus on building soil health and using minimal chemical inputs on our fruit crops. We offer summer CSA shares, pick-your-own strawberries, raspberries and blackberries and offer a daily farm stand open mid-June through September.

Park Ridge Organics

N8410 Abler Road, Fond du Lac


Appleton Downtown Farm Market, Saturdays 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (our stand is on College Ave. in front of McKinney Photography).

Our on-farm store is open Monday to Saturday from June through October.

Full, Half and Quarter shares offered every week for 20 weeks (June through October). Late season shares (November and December), Winter Storage shares (January and February).

Vegetables, mushrooms, eggs (available for farm pickup only), pasta and herbs.

Park Ridge Organics has been certified organic since our beginning in 2003. It is a second-owned farm providing produce to over 300 members each season. Our farm grows high quality produce and takes strong measures to ensure food safety. With over 14 years of growing experience and soil management, our produce flavor is exceptional!

Source: MetroCreative Connection.

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