Maintaining the lavender garden that will be the backdrop of Saturday’s Lavender Festival at Chatfield Farms is a second career for horticulturalist Angela Jewett.
After earning a degree in political science from the University of Iowa, Jewett went straight into the Army, serving nine years as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer. During those nine years she was based at Fort Carson and completed two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
“And I decided I wanted to do something different, stay here in Colorado,” Jewett said. “I really enjoy working in my garden and my yard. And I decided I wanted to do something outside with plants.”
At first, Jewett thought farming would be a great option. But growing up in Iowa, she was used to large-scale agriculture and didn’t feel ready for that type of operation.
She researched what would grow well in Colorado on a smaller scale.
“And lavender was an option, surprisingly,” Jewett said. “I never would’ve guessed.”
Jewett’s lavender research included trips to the Western Slope, where farmers have been growing lavender as a cash crop for more than a decade.
“I learned a great deal from the people who’ve been doing it here and realized it was definitely a viable option for me,” Jewett said.
She joined the Denver Botanic Gardens at a volunteer in 2014 to get some experience and learn from professionals.
“And it just so happened they were planning on installing a lavender garden in the next year or two,” Jewett said. “So, I went off to CSU to pursue my horticulture degree.”
She completed about one semester at Colorado State University before the Denver Botanic Gardens asked her to come back full-time to help build and maintain the lavender garden.
Jewett says she is occasionally reminded of her tours overseas as a platoon leader, even while surrounded by lavender.
“Interestingly enough, I ran into one of my soldiers from my first tour in Iraq at the Palisade Lavender Festival last weekend,” Jewett said. “Which I never would have guessed, to run into someone from that time in my life at a lavender festival of all things.”
She thinks his girlfriend made him go.