2022 Great Lakes Lavender Growers' 7th Annual Meeting

~ Mark Your Calendar ~
Saturday, March 5th: 9-1pm
Sunday, March 6th: 2-6pm
Both days entirely via Zoom!

2022 is just around the corner and you don’t want to miss this opportunity to connect with your fellow lavender growers and to learn new and exciting things to advance your farm/business.
Join us for the 7th annual GLLG conference. We’re virtual again this year!

Keynote Speaker, March 5th
"Walking Your Botanical Business Path"

Donna Sullivan Smith
Medicinal Herbalist

Donna became intimately acquainted with her native landscape while growing up in a family of Southern gardeners.  These early years of work and wonder followed her throughout life: in the form of writing and photography of the natural world, in providing healthy alternatives for her family, in living a life dedicated to the cultivation of others.

She spent her initial career working in organizational psychology, executive coaching, team facilitation, and educational development for Fortune 100 companies. She has woven this skillset in social dynamics and business with her pursuit of integrated herbalism and educational pathways in the Southeast.

Donna first encountered herbalism through the lens of native plant propagation and preservation at her home in North Georgia—and, she realized that tending to the land enriched her life and the lives of others, helping them form an authentic relationship with the natural world.

Her paradigm always begins in the garden or forest—with the plants—understanding and nurturing our natural resources. Only then can we use them and share them appropriately or, in other words, “Plants. Process. People.”

As of late, she works alongside her husband in building a botanical medicine farm and ecological restoration site in NE Alabama.

March 5th
"What Makes Me Unique?"

Cyndie Rinek
Blooming Hill Lavender Farm
Purcellville, Virginia

Cyndie Rinek is the owner and operator of Blooming Hill Lavender Farm & Gift Shop. A member of the United States Lavender Growers Association since 2014, she is also a member of the Potomac Unit of the Herb Society of America, a Master Gardener, a Certified Tea Specialist, and a local garden club member. In 1993, Cyndie, and her husband Peter, a Landscape Architect and Urban Planner, settled in Philomont Virginia, a rural hamlet located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge in Western Loudoun County, about 50 miles west of Washington, DC. Cyndie left the corporate world and spent the last 25 plus years learning about, collecting, propagating, planting, growing, and selling many different varieties of lavenders at local fairs, garden shows and seminars while steadily building a clientele of loyal lavender enthusiasts who enjoy the over 90 varieties, they grow on their property. Peter, also a certified arborist, humorously refers to their collection as a “lavender arboretum.”

In 2010, Cyndie and Peter built a shop on their property and began welcoming visitors to tour their 4-acre garden spot filled with formal and informal gardens, along with ornamentals, herbs and trees. Since then, Cyndie has been able to grow her ever-evolving home-based business in unique ways with the help and guidance of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and the Loudoun County Health Department. Farmlet visitors not only can buy lavender plants, lavender products, and garden décor in the shop, she also offers six different flavors of lavender-infused ice cream along with hand-harvested artisan tea blends that she sells in the shop, thus expanding her business to be classified by VDACS as a limited ice cream/tea shop. Partnering with other niche food-base business entrepreneurs who supply scones, shortbread and other sweets, Cyndie also caters to groups for traditional Cream Teas and holds five different public Cream Teas out in the gardens from Mother’s Day Weekend through the middle of October at Blooming Hill. Farmlet visitors can also buy lavender-infused sweets and goodies, a la carte in their shop, throughout the season, then find a pleasant, shady spot in the gardens to relax and discover the flavor and versatility of lavender.

March 5th
"What Makes Me Unique?"

Sarah Richards
Lavender Wind, LLC
Coupeville, Washington

Sarah founded Lavender Wind Farm in 2000, starting the first season with 400 plants. Now, 22 years later, the farm has about 6 acres in cultivation, growing 17 different varieties of lavender. in the autumn of 2021 she sold the farm part of the operation to a couple who will continue growing lavender. She is a founding board member of the United States Lavender Growers Association, and currently serves on the Board of Directors as Treasurer.

Sarah has taught Lavender 101 classes at the annual Whidbey Island Master Gardeners Workshop and given talks to many of Whidbey’s garden clubs. She created and manages the Lavender Wind website and social media pages. She has been distilling lavender for more than 20 years, and recently increased her collection of stills with a new 150-liter copper still and a small lab still.

In addition to starting and running the farm, Sarah created a manufacturing and retail facility in a charming 1916 bungalow located in the historic waterfront district of Coupeville in Central Whidbey Island. It has been remodeled to suit several purposes – manufacturing, retail & tea room sales, and nursery display. She has formulated her body, household, and food products which are now manufactured in this facility. After 22 years of growing lavender and welcoming customers to her farm, the retail portion of her business is now focused in this charming shop, which is a draw for locals and tourists alike.

Sarah’s background includes a career as a mental health counselor, a computer programmer, and one of the first female telephone installers in Denver. These days, when not working, she is reawakening her passion in photography and art.

March 6th
"Finding My Botanical Niche in the Field"

Sean Westerveld
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Sean Westerveld has served as Ginseng and Herbs Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs since 2008. He received B.Sc. (Agr.), M.Sc., and Ph.D. degrees in Horticulture from the University of Guelph. Prior to working with OMAFRA, Sean worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the Muck Crops Research Station and as interim leader of the Vegetable and Non-traditional Crops Research Program at the Simcoe Research Station of the University of Guelph. His primary role in OMAFRA is to support the Ontario ginseng, lavender and herb industries through technology transfer and to provide input into provincial and federal policies that may affect the industry. He has assisted the Ontario lavender industry with research and technology transfer since before the inception of the Ontario Lavender Association in 2010. Sean is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph.


Due to the changes we have made to stay safe yet still engage with each other, this year we have changed our process of registration. We ask that you register and pay for the conference at the same time rather than our previous custom of paying on the day of the event. This means that when you register and pay you will need to have a credit card ready for payment. We are unable to accept cash or checks this year. This year registration is being handled by MSU Extension. When you click on the registration link, you will be directed to their secure website. Once you have completed the registration form, you will receive a confirmation via email that you may use for tax purposes. We hope this process makes this transaction as straightforward as possible.


To join this year’s virtual conference, you will need to download Zoom, a free web-based software. To download Zoom visit We highly recommend testing Zoom before the conference.

Testing Your Connection and Audio Prior to the First Session
The URL below will be for testing your equipment. For technical assistance please contact the Michigan State University Distance Learning Help Desk at (844) 678-6200 (24/7 support).

  1. Click on the following link:
  2. You will be prompted to download and run the Zoom application if you have not already done so. If you have already downloaded the Zoom application, you will be prompted to open the application.
  3. Test your audio by clicking on the Test Speaker You can adjust your volume level by sliding the volume bar. If you have any difficulty hearing the audio make sure the correct audio device is selected from the drop-down menu. When you are done testing your sound close to the Settings window and Leave the meeting.
  4. Test your microphone by clicking on the Test Microphone

Need Help?

If you need technical support during the conference, please contact the MSU IT Service Desk toll free at (844) 678-6200. Indicate you are contacting them regarding the MSU Extension-Lavender conference.


If you cannot hear other participants in a Zoom meeting, follow these steps to troubleshoot the issue.

  • Ensure your speaker is turned on (on your computer). If you see the speaker icon in the top-left corner is turned off (could possibly be bottom right), tap it to turn on your speaker.
  • Increase the volume on your mobile device using the volume buttons or notification panel. Even if the speaker is turned on in Zoom, your device’s volume might be set to mute or vibrate only.




Saturday, March 5th, 2022

9:00 - 9:10

Main Stage: Welcome and Program Overview: Wynne Wright

9:10 - 10:25

Main Stage: Keynote Speaker: “Walking Your Botanical Business Path”, Donna Sullivan Smith, Medicinal Herbalist, GA

10:25 - 11:40

Main Stage: "What Makes Me Unique?" Cyndie Rinek, Blooming Hill Lavender Farm, Virginia and Sarah Richards, Lavender Wind, Whidbey Island, Washington

11:50 - 1:00


Room A

Lavender Oil Distillation – Trish Dennis

Room B

Social Media/Marketing Breakout – Danielle Lee

Room C

Medicinal and Culinary Benefits of Lavender – Lisa Kuntz

Room D

Agritourism and Control Issues – Sarah Richards and Cyndie Rinek

Room E

In the Core Process of Lavender Farming Business, How Do I Find My Fit? - Kim Benz

1:00 - 1:10

Visit Resource Center - End Day 1

Sunday, March 6, 2022

2:00 - 2:10

Main Stage: Welcome Back: Wynne Wright

2:10 - 2:45

Main Stage: “Finding My Botanical Niche in the Field”: Dr. Sean Westerveld, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

3:50 - 4:10

Main Stage: “Protecting my Investment with Crop Insurance”: Phillip Preston, Greenstone Farm Credit

4:10 - 4:15


4:15 - 5:30

CONCURRENT SESSIONS: Discussion Breakouts

Room A

Newbies Just Beginning – Kim Hansen

Room B

Shipping and Customer Service – Steve Teets

Room C

Lavender at the Farmers’ Market – Wynne Wright

Room D

Production and Packaging of Retail Products – Trish Dennis

Room E

Cultivating Exciting On-Farm Experiences for Customers – Andrea McCaherty

5:30 - 5:40

Photo Contest Winners, Evaluations and Closing Comments