New business idea in Niesky: lavender farmers plan own farm store

The demand for lavender products from the agricultural cooperative in the Niesky district of See is high. In the new year, it should be possible to buy on site.

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In See können Besucher zwischen den Lavendelreihen entlanglaufen.
It doesn't have to be a trip to France to take beautiful pictures of lavender in bloom, like here with model Ania. A trip to See is enough in the summer. Visitors can walk between the rows of lavender. © SZ/Steffen Gerhardt

From Steffen Gerhardt

Andreas Graf is satisfied with the lavender harvest. For the chairman of the agricultural cooperative in the Niesky district of See, it has already been completed.

From the area of two and a half hectares could be harvested about 100 kilograms of lavender flowers and in addition 32 kilograms of oil. Oil is less than the previous year. In 2022, the yield was 45 kilograms. Still, this year's yield is slightly more than the amount the lakeers distilled in the first harvest year of 2021. There, it was 28 kilograms. But there's a reason for that, explains Andreas Graf: "This year, the demand for lavender flowers for further processing has increased." In order to get the blossoms in their full glory from the field, the harvest began earlier this year. With the disadvantage that the oil content of the plant is lower because it is not yet mature.

The flowers are used for many products that the agricultural cooperative has developed together with partners and offers for sale. Thus, not only the fragrance sachets are made of lavender flowers. They are also used in soap, hair shampoo, lip balm, lavender salami and ice cream.

Internet store spruced up

The Seer agriculture is focusing on marketing its lavender products itself. To this end, she has not only given her online store a new look for the new season, but has also optimized the ordering process. "Until now, our Internet store has been operated by two colleagues in addition to their actual duties. The changes have reduced the workload for them," explains the agricultural boss. Also, a letter carrier now comes to the cooperative to pick up the shipping packages. Previously, the women had to take them to the post office themselves.

Nevertheless, the clicks and orders show that this business can soon no longer be done "on the side. And that's where the agricultural cooperative actually wants to go. With the refreshing of their Internet presence in September, the Seer could recorded around 5,000 hits on its portal. This is primarily intended for customers in Germany. Andreas Graf has so far refrained from doing business abroad, as each country has its own regulations and laws on online trading.

Chairman Andreas Graf shows a selection of Seer Agrar products made from lavender grown on the farm.© SZ/Steffen Gerhardt

Even though the lavender plant only takes up about 1.5 percent of the cooperative's total cultivated area, "lavender is an important mainstay for us," says the chairman of the board. In addition to production and marketing, the people of Lake Constance also want to anchor this unique selling point in the region for tourism. However, they only have two months a year to do this, when the lavender blooms in June and July.

Tour buses stop in lake

Three coaches stopped at See during these two months, Andreas Graf recounts. The companies were each given a guided tour as well as coffee and cake. Whereby lavender cake would also still be an option for the guests. "We are constantly looking for new ideas and their implementation," explains the CEO. But this always requires a partner in business and crafts. This partner should be based as locally or regionally as possible - for reasons of sustainability and short distribution channels.

The lakeside company wants to add lavender-scented candles and a floral spice to its product range. They are also considering having lavender-flavored syrup produced. Inquiries come there from the catering trade, also after a liqueur or cocktails with lavender taste. Because it goes to the Christmas season, and there gifts are again in demand. "This is also the time when our online store is particularly intensively frequented," says Andreas Graf.

From this year, an Internet visit is particularly worthwhile. This invites to a virtual tour of the lavender field. On attached buttons the visitor learns interesting facts about the plant and its processing. The people of the lake have also come up with this for the reason that the lavender only blooms for two months before it is harvested.

Lavender store in the house

A major construction project is planned for next year. The agricultural cooperative wants to set up a small store in its administrative headquarters to sell the products behind its own front door. "Especially from visitors to our lavender field often come inquiries whether they can not also buy the products from us. This should become possible in the new year for the season," assures the agricultural boss.

Then in the store will also be a freezer, where the coveted ice cream with lavender. But the clientele does not have to wait that long. The Agrargenossenschaft See will be represented with its stand at the next Naschmarkt in Niesky. There, the first lavender ice cream after the seasonal break will be available - as milk ice cream and as strawberry sorbet. The market will take place in a week, on October 14, at the Zinzendorfplatz in Niesky.

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