Czechia has the largest organic lavender field in Europe
The Lavender Valley is nestled in the heart of the Barrandien Geopark, a geologically unique region between Prague and Pilsen. It was here that Helena Neumannová decided to plant English lavender, the kind of lavender with internal healing effects. It continues a tradition established by the Celts who cultivated lavender in Chodouň thousands of years ago.
In 2014, she planted 50,000 bushes of organic quality lavender, and her Lavender Valley farm now produces health and wellness products for internal use – teas, syrups and foods which they offer in their local restaurant and shop. . They also offer aromatherapy, spa sessions, and all sorts of therapeutic remedies that promise to relieve depression, anxiety, insomnia, and boost the immune system. Radio Prague contributor Martina Kroa visited the farm and spoke to Lavender Valley founder Helena Neumannová about her lavender business, their primacy in combining organic lavender and cannabis, and the tradition Czech herbalism and spa.
On your site, you write that you have the largest organic lavender field in Europe. How did it happen in a small central European country?
“It’s very interesting because everyone knows lavender from Provence, but the fact is that the Slavs had the first lavender in the world. Nobody knows because during the world war, the second world war and the communist era, a lot of people who were very good herbalists emigrated, they ran because of Hitler and because of the communist regime and they have started building big companies all over the world. But what is very important for us is that Bulgaria, Montenegro, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic had lavender as early as the 10th century BC. We had absolutely brilliant herbalism and so after the Velvet Revolution some people in these countries that I named did it again. And, like me, they’re trying to tell the world that we have medical lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, which is absolutely brilliant for internal use, and for great stuff, food, healing inside – nobody no other has that.
Helena proudly points out that unlike commercial lavender farms around the world, in Chodouň they use strictly organic practices and harvest their lavender by hand.
“Many farms in Provence and elsewhere have conventional production, they use chemicals. But when the lavender farms were re-established in this country, whether it was ours or Mr. Bíza’s in South Moravia, or the lavender farm near Mount Řipthey have chosen to be strictly organic and this is most important for sustainability, for the ecological system in the world, for the planet, for us human beings.
And what is the biggest difference between lavender from Provence and lavender from Chodouň?
“The most important thing is that lavender from Provence is produced in a conventional way and therefore it is possible to use it only for cosmetics and essential oils, but the Czech Republic has organic lavender, and we can use it internally. Say, the lavender in your garden is a kind of lavender that you can only use for example as a pretty decoration or in aromatherapy. But this type of lavender, certified organic lavender, is absolutely terrific for healing on the inside.
There are two most common species of lavender or ‘Lavandula’ in Latin. First of all, “English” or “true” lavender which is planted in Chodouň and can be used for healing purposes, also called Lavandula angustifolia. The second species Lavandula x intermedia is a hybrid and often called “lavandin”, planted commonly in France, and also produces more essential oils.
“In the 21st century, we know of thousands of kinds of lavender, but Lavandula angustifolia Munstead is the best of them all. And if you grow it in organic quality, you can say it’s a weed. If you don’t plant it in organic quality, it’s only a flower, it’s important to say that. Therefore, we know that we have something special to recharge indoors and of course for food, organic drinks, organic chocolate, organic snacks, etc.
The lavender grown in Chodouň, Lavandula angustifolia Munstead, is also smaller.
“But the strength of this herb is on the inside, not in the height. And of course the lavender from Provence is much higher and ideal for smelling, but on the other hand you cannot use it internally. When you drink their wine for example, I say you drink poison.
For foreigners and when marketing abroad, they call their lavender from Chodouň ‘Lavandula Bohemia’ to emphasize the fact that it comes from the Czech Republic.
What is special about Chodouň lavender?
“Lavandula Bohemia, as we know from research over the past five years, contains particular types of biodynamic substances that are very important for autoimmune diseases in the 21st century. Let’s say the kind of diseases that conventional medicine does not know how to cure; we can help these people. What is crucial about this type of herb is that it is pure nature with no other negative side effects. It only helps and it is something absolutely special and unique. We hope, at the end of our research, still in progress, to obtain a quality label, we will then be able to use all these results on our labels and our products.
In Chodouň they have the perfect combination of herbs, minerals and natural conditions that contribute to the healing effects of the plant. The limestone in the unique geological area where lavender is grown adds minerals, and the winter frost and especially the ever-present wind stress the plant which then produces more flavonoids and other biodynamic substances which have healing effects. Just sitting near the fields should help relieve migraines or fatigue. Helena Neumannova again:
“Our lavender contains antibiotics, antioxidants and antiseptics from pure nature without any other effects. It helps your digestive system, your nervous system and your immunity, of course. And what is most interesting to me is that we can help with very serious psychological problems like depression, insomnia and other nervous system problems.
“Can you imagine the Japanese can bring back the balance with the dopamine hormone that is made in your digestive system? They have research on lavender that proves it really supports the production of dopamine and serotonin in your system So we can say that it is something like the second center of your body, mind and soul because the first is the brain and the second is your digestive system where the center of your immunity is .
Lavender Valley participates in research on the healing effects of their lavender with the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague and also with other experts:
“We cooperate with Mr. Petr Kaštánek who is very famous for using pure organic quality herbs for healing and research. We are very proud to cooperate with university experts because they helped us a lot when we started to grow lavender. And we believe that if we connect together and have this research, we can show the world that we have something absolutely unique.
Lavender Valley has set its goals very high. They want to prove the healing effects of their lavender on neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, depression and others. And they develop products from the powerful combination of organic lavender and cannabis.
“We were the first team in the world to mix these two queens of herbs, and I’m very proud of that. Can you imagine that US reps from cbdMD which is the biggest producer in the world, and support clinics in Switzerland, US and top clinics in the world, asked us to send these two products to them for testing?
Helena’s vision is to restore the reputation of traditional Czech herbalism and continue the country’s famous spa tradition.
“That’s my main goal. I would like to hear in the world that Czech herbalism is absolutely brilliant. Because everyone knows lavender from Provence, everyone knows that lavender is great for shampoo, soap, conditioner, essential oils, perfumes but people don’t know how this queen of herbs can really serve and support your nervous system which is most important now when we live in these crazy times. Therefore, it is very important for us to try to help Czech herbalism, the Czech country, Central Bohemia as the mecca of herbalism because we were that.