Business Community Health & Wellness

Forest bathing at Crescent Valley Lavender Farm

Posted on June 12th, 2023 By: Julianna Verboort

“Shinrin-yoku” is a Japanese term that translates to “forest bath.” It is the practice of spending time in the forest to absorb nature. Steeping your senses in natural surroundings encourages relaxation and stress relief.

You can experience elevated forest bathing at Crescent Valley Lavender Farm in Gig Harbor, with its immense rolling hill of purple and white blooms and a nature trail meandering through five wooded acres.

Visitors can grab a basket and scissors for a “you-cut” experience, stroll among tidy rows fragrant with seven types of lavender, and learn about native plants by spotting identification labels along the forest path.

Stress relief

Lavender provides a long list of health-boosting perks. But for the Liebner family, who created Crescent Valley Lavender Farm, the biggest benefit is giving people the opportunity to connect with nature.

“That’s what the you-cut is all about,” said Glenn Liebner, whose vision brought the farm to life. “Give someone a pair of scissors and they go out and cut their lavender, and you see their stress melt away.”

Gig Harbor artist Hillarie Isackson paints a mural on the back of the shop on the Liebners’ lavender farm.

Liebner recalls a recent visit from a gentleman with a high-pressure career who had not spent much time outdoors. “He got really enmeshed in the experience of cutting the lavender, watching the pollinators, and all the scents. He told me how calm this made him feel, that it was a restorative experience. It’s really gratifying to see the farm have an immediate and positive impact on visitors.”

“Our mission and vision are to bring open spaces and a farm to the community to engage with nature,” said Diana Liebner, Glenn’s wife and partner in the farm.

Midlife crisis

Glenn might say that the farm is the manifestation of his “midlife crisis.” He works as an account manager in the signage industry. After three decades of business travel and sales objectives, “I really felt the need to reconnect with nature. I wanted to find a way to give back to the land and the community.”

Lavender growing at Crescent Valley Lavender Farm.

The idea of farming had always appealed to him. “My mom and dad were from big gardening families, and my great grandfather owned a vineyard in Yugoslavia. In college, my favorite job was working in landscaping. I enjoyed being outdoors and creating something,” he explained.

Around 2012, Glenn began researching how to make his dream a reality. He evaluated apples, ginger, and other crops. He decided on lavender because it is both hardy and useful.

Family operation

In 2015, the Liebners found a Gig Harbor property that had the right conditions and potential. It was not a turnkey operation, though. Every member of the family dove in to bring Glenn’s inspiration to life.

“With this property, I did not have his vision,” Diana admitted, but she was ready to move and she trusted Glenn’s research. Glenn bought a tractor and removed acres of invasive Scotch broom.

Diana added: “The girls and I were part of it all, getting the field ready to plant. Laying the weed barrier was the hardest part – Glenn was traveling for his job, and we had to get it done because we had 800 plants coming! The girls would roll the barrier and I’d hammer pins down, and a big gust of wind would come and carry it away.”

At the time, Diana was also working in health care, completing a master’s degree in mental health, and driving the girls to and from volleyball games and other activities. “We were busy and scattered, but we did it!” she said.

Lavender landscape

Flash forward to 2023, and the Liebner family has created an idyllic, productive landscape. In June, they opened their third annual you-pick season. Interested guests are educated about the varieties of lavender, pollinators, and local native plants.

Lavender growing at Crescent Valley Lavender Farm.

In addition to growing lavender, the Liebners, have added the forest loop trail, a Victory Garden for growing vegetables, a waterfall feature, a gazebo, and a retail shop. A new bridge at the property’s entrance was a necessary and substantial investment, and the Liebners carefully followed environmental regulations to support the creek ecosystem that runs along the property.

Daughters Nina and Eliza are as much part of the farm as the farm is part of them. Nina was in eighth grade and Eliza in fifth when the family moved. Now both college students, they’ve invested many hours in planting, weeding, and making wreaths and products from the lavender they’ve grown, as well as managing sales at the shop on the farm.

Growing up with lavender

For Eliza, the farm represents their family’s love for each other and for the earth.

“So much went into starting and maintaining the farm; not just care for the land, but care for the family. It was my mom slathering us with copious amounts of sunscreen before harvests, even though we still ended up with gnarly tan lines. It was my sister blasting our favorite tunes while we were weeding or harvesting and dancing around when no one was there. And it was my dad specifically making recipes for things my sister and I liked; the lip balm and body scrub were our personal favorites,” she shared. “We grew our love through the farm, taking care of each other and the lavender; in this way, our farm became a beautiful part of our family.”

Nina’s recollections echo her parent’s work ethic and their interest in creating something for the community.

“My dad has always had projects. The farm has been his biggest project yet. There is not a day where my father is not working on the farm to improve it. I have seen him in the rain, heat, and snow on his tractor because he ‘needs to get it done.’ It has been so exciting to see my dad build something for the community and I’m so happy that others enjoy the farm as much as our family does. I have met people from all over the world who have come to Gig Harbor to visit our small farm.”

Who visits

Approximately 40% of visitors are from out of state. Thinking about why people visit the farm, Nina added: “It feels homey and welcoming, because it is our home and we do welcome you. Our farm supports the community by bringing everyone together and allowing a space to unwind and relax.”

Lavendar growing at Crescent Valley Lavendar Farm.

Visiting the farm during you-cut season (mid-June through the end of July) is a unique and uplifting outing for intergenerational groups. The farm features shaded picnic tables along the edge of the field, perfect for enjoying a snack or for taking a break, and the enchanting gazebo provides an enchanting photo opportunity.

“Families come out to do you-cut, and even the littlest kids can carry the baskets out into the field. One of my favorite things to see is kids running up and down the rows of lavender with outstretched arms, brushing along the lavender stems. They like to watch the bees and butterflies,” Glenn said. “Kids today don’t have as much time in nature as my generation did. Often, they’re indoors and online, and that’s not reality. Nature brings them back to reality.”

After the farm’s public season closes, the Liebners harvest their plants. They make lavender and plant-based products including essential oils, lotions, soaps, balms, sachets, bath bombs, wreaths, and more.

Crescent Valley Lavender Farm products are sold at the shop on the farm and through their website.

Looking to the future

In the future, Crescent Valley Lavender Farm hopes to host events.

“We are in process with Pierce County to meet their requirements as an event venue,” Glenn said, referencing regulations that vary by county and can be challenging for small farms. The farm hosted a Soroptimists Club auction in 2022 and recently hosted a celebration of life. “We would like to do more of that.” The farm can accommodate up to 70 people.

In the meantime, build some shinrin-yoku into your summer schedule and gather some fresh-cut lavender at Crescent Valley Lavender Farm. Admission is $5 per car and reservations are required. Schedule your visit here.

Crescent Valley Lavender Farm

Where: 11501 Crescent Valley Dr., Gig Harbor (on Crescent Valley across from 115th Street)


Hours: When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday; season opens June 15. Reservations required.

Editor’s note: The owners of Crescent Valley Lavender Farm are friends of the author.

Soroptimist International of Gig Harbor held their annual fundraising event at Crescent Valley Lavender Farm. The farm is working with Pierce County to become a venue for weddings, family reunions, corporate events and more.