The first time I was passing through dense woods near village of Pekici close to San Vincenti, I felt strong scent of lavender. I wasn’t not sure from where this intensive intoxicating aroma is coming from since I was standing in the middle of the woods. Then I looked to the right and through green treetops I saw something purple. Stop, I yelled to Korina, we must go there! We left our bicycles in the middle of the road and jumped through thick branches over dry wall. Suddenly we found ourselves in fairytale. Beautiful field of blossoming lavender around us and in the middle a picturesque kažun. Have we just come to Provence?
We couldn’t set apart from this scene, this purple beauty. Two years later we went to the same location, and although lavender wasn’t blossoming, it was still impressive. Ten days ago we returned to it again and decided to enjoy in scent and sight.
Of course, even after first visit I knew that the lavender fields belong to Pekica family, of the same name as the village. They started the business twelve years ago and all begun in Vodnjan with a project of lavender planting on neglected land, based on similar projects with planting olive trees and grapevine.
Lavander on neglected land
Unfortunately, Vodnjan project wasn’t successful, however several families stayed in the business. Among them Aleksandra, Feručo, Valerio, Emil and Mihael. Today they are satisfied but it wasn’t easy at the beginning. Aleksandra tells us it was her idea since she always like to create something new.
-We decided to plant lavender on the insofar neglected land, so we’ve got area of four hectares under this plant which we use for production of olive oil, souvenirs, aromatic bags, hydrolytes, soaps, but also food supplements. We planted 36 thousand seedlings – Aleksandra explains on her peaceful estate in a village with ten inhabitants. And it’s a vivid estate – home garden on entrance together with still functioning oven, then two donkeys meet us in spacious yard with a view on old stone house with huge arbor packed with rich trusses. Here is also a hen with small chickens, while gooses are a bit further. Playful little dogs accompany us while lazy cats are looking for most suitable place for napping.
Right here in this authentic ambient Aleksandra and her family meet guests during their manifestation Lavender days which take place beginning of July, but also whenever groups announce themselves. It is an ideal opportunity for them to present their products, but not only souvenirs and cosmetics, but also something for eating and drinking. After all they are a family farm.
I knead laveder in bread
– For food I only use eatable lavender, of course, and I mostly sprinkle it. I only knead it in homemade bread and Istrian cookies – Aleksandra tells us, but she doesn’t reveal the cookies’ recipe. This is her little secrets. Still, she says, to knead them one needs flavor, butter or lard, lavender in powder, eggs, little bit of sugar and salt, coconut, lemon crust, chocolate and powder sugar for top. The rest is cook’s secret. They go best with morning coffee or tea. Of course, on a terrace with a green view. The the scent of lavender comes to the fore.
The bread with lavender is made in standard way, only she puts minced dry lavender in it. And the freshness which intoxicates you when bread comes out of oven is incredible. The smell of bread and lavender in one. Very unusual mix.
One definitely starts to droll when Aleksandra bring her homemade curd with lavender on table together with lavender ravioli. Namely, the family has 14 sheep and they make their own dairy products. For their own purpose, of course. Her husband Feručo says they always have had sheep with one short break. But now they don’t give to anybody anymore. With a male side of a family he takes care for numerous domestic animals that can be seen here. That makes him happy and he wouldn’t change this kind of life for any city.
They are opening an excursion site
How would he when after a long day here in the shadow of his arbor he can drink a glass of lavender juice or even rakia of he wishes something stronger. For rakia recipe we don’t ask, but the juice has intrigued us.
-Based on elder syrup, I started to make lavender syrup as well. It’s the same method. On three liters of water I put two full fists of eatable lavender flower, dry or fresh. It soaks for 24 hours. After that you squeeze it, put 1,5 kilo of sugar and juice out of three lemons, and cook it altogether. Then you put it in warm bottles. Of course it’s being served cold, best with curd with lavender – recommends this hard-working housewife who is not a vocational cook although almost all from her family had this vocation. But her love towards cooking is stronger than anything. That is why she plans to devote to this job more seriously. Next year, she says, they plan to open an excursion site, and completely devote to it.
The best country’s ethno souvenirs
–Lavender is being picked around 15th of July when bumblebees fly away from it. Then it’s ready. On average for 100 kilos of lavender we get about a liter of oil. Yearly we produce around 150 liters of lavender oil and for refinement we use distillery in Nedešćina, while oil and souvenirs are being placed on Kvarner and Dalmatian island. Although, our dolls and souvenirs can be found around the world.
The doll Aleksandra makes once was among the best country’s ethno souvenirs on Souvenir stock in Split, Feručo praises his wife. Aleksandra, when not in kitchen, spends her time in her fragrant workshop where she prepares little packages with dry lavender. She and her son sew little bags, she shapes fragrant dolls and then they fill them. There is a lot of work, but when it’s a pleasure, nothing is hard. And for Pekica family lavender is definitely more than job.