Published: 12:02, 17 June 2020
| Updated: 10:51, 13 July 2020
There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment, but one thing staff at Castle Farm fields at Shoreham near Sevenoaks know for certain is that the fields will bloom beautifully and that the aroma of lavender will fill the valley again this summer.
The site is the largest lavender farm in the UK, growing more than 130 acres of the fragrant flowers.
The lavender in the fields is only in flower from late June until late July, although this year there were three nights of unprecedented frost in May, which did damage some of the young lavender buds and although the plants were able to recover, they may flower later as a result.
This means harvesting the precious lavender oil - bottled within two hours of being harvested - could take place from mid July until early August, weather permitting.
Although the farm in Redmans Lane, Shoreham, has been closed to the public throughout the coronavirus outbreak - though the online shop has done a brisk trade - things are starting to change.
Here's how you'll be able to see the lavender this summer:
There will be some socially distanced events through the summer to ensure people are still able to enjoy the beautiful, calming lavender rows whilst staying safe, although numbers will have to be limited. Lavender Picnics will be back, with visitors able to bring their own picnic to enjoy the lavender fields for an afternoon or an evening session. Numbers will be limited at each event to encourage social distancing and a relaxing experience. They are planned to be held at one of the new fields, which will offer more space and dedicated picnic parking. However, the popular tours will not be taking place.
The footpath kiosk for walkers, offering some products as well as cold drinks and ice creams, is currently open on weekend, and is on the Darenth Valley footpath behind the farm, along from the Lullingstone Visitor Centre, where there is parking available.
Once the fields are in flower it is likely that the kiosk point may be open daily. The Kiosk will provide cold drinks, ice creams and a limited selection of products. It is currently open on Saturdays and Sundays between 10am and 4.30pm, and accepts card payments only.
The Hop Shop, which has been closed since lockdown, will reopen on Friday, June 19, to coincide with the start of the lavender season, and will be a drive thru.
You can look up what products you want online and then drive to the farm to place and collect your order from the safety of your vehicle. It will also give you a chance to see the fields in flower from your car and enjoy the relaxing scent in the air. Products on offer will include seasonal produce, lavender products, fresh bunches, lavender plants, decorations and some farm shop favourites.
Castle Farm will be turned into a one-way system to deliver this offering – with entry only from the A225. There will be no foot traffic allowed within the farm gates.