Located in the lush riverbed of the Rio Grande just outside the Albuquerque, N.M., city limits, Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm is one of the most memorable farm vacations I’ve taken. Its high desert location straddles the urban and rural divide, immediately captivating visitors with its lush scenery and unique offerings.
A Peek at the Past
This land, originally inhabited by Ancient Pueblo people, became home to the original Creamland Dairies in the 1930s, supplying Albuquerque with a considerable portion of its milk and cream. The ranch boasted one of the finest purebred herds of Guernsey and Holstein cattle in the Southwest and played a significant role in building up the dairy industry in New Mexico. A mural on the wall of the Farm Shop depicts scenes of those days.
The farm also experimented with raising sugar beet seed in an effort to wean American dependence on imported sugar beets, but in 1976, influential locals Armin and Penny Rembe bought the ranch and worked to restore and preserve its land and buildings.
Today, Los Poblanos consists of the original estate with lodging, dining, events and retail, but it’s the organic lavender farm that truly sets the land apart. Driving through the entrance to the farm, you’ll take in line of tall, majestic cottonwoods and then rows of lavender crops, lily ponds, bountiful gardens and free-ranging peacocks. Interestingly, the land functions again as a model experimental farm, producing organic lavender produce and raising honey bees.
Lay of the Lavender
With 39 species and many hundreds of varieties, lavender is a popular herb grown all over the world. Los Poblanos proudly grows Grosso lavender. The ranches head lavender farmer Jason Bean shares these lavender tips.
1. Don’t Overwater
Lavender likes dry soil and can be grown using very little water, making it a great choice for arid regions like New Mexico. The lavender farm at Los Poblanos is part of a village- and state-driven sustainability initiative to create a high-margin crop with very little water use, and it aligns beautifully with the farm’s commitment to sustainability. If you come for a visit, check out the farm’s handmade steam distiller used to make lavender oil.
2. Keep Bees
Los Poblanos’ lavender, as well as its fruit trees and produce, are greeted by honey bees throughout the warmer seasons. The farm keeps many active hives on the property to pollinate crops and produce honey for meals served at the inn’s award-winning restaurant, La Merienda.
3. Cook With It
Culinary lavender is a versatile herb that can be used to enhance both the flavor and appearance of food. Los Poblanos plans on adding culinary varieties to its lavender fields this year.
4. Use It as Medicine
Lavender can be a mainstay of your medicine cabinet, too. Since the first Spanish settlers brought lavender to the Southwest, it’s been used for its soothing medicinal and aromatic properties. Lavender speeds healing, reduces scarring and kills germs, and the essential oil can also be used to ease restlessness, headaches and tension.
When You Visit
Los Poblanos manages to be both calming yet bustling with a real sense of community. When John Gaw Meem, considered the 20th century’s most influential designer of New Mexico architecture, designed the hacienda-style inn, he ensured all guest-room windows opened to a courtyard, coaxing visitors to get outside and walk the grounds. The place overflows with historical artifacts and local charm. Here are some activities and attractions you can’t miss during your visit:
- Farm Shop: Housed in the original Creamland Dairy, the Farm Shop is stocked with the farm’s best-selling lavender soaps, lavender spa products, kitchen tools, books, delectable snacks, and more. Its popular lavender line sells all around world—they even have a following in Japan.
- Lavender Labs: This two-month event held in June and July to celebrate lavender season includes various workshops, classes, tours and tastings.
- Gardens and Greenhouse: Enjoy several gardens, including the the lavender fields and the Rose Greely Garden, as well as the historic Lord and Burham greenhouse, filled with seedlings, lavender plants, cacti and greens for the kitchen.
- Betty’s Bath and Day Spa: A locally owned spa just 2 miles from the farm offers a special lavender package and is continually voted best spa in Albuquerque by several local publications.
- Los Poblanos Open Space and Los Ranchos Agri-Nature Center: Across the street from the inn, enjoy trails, a seasonal corn maze and learning center. The open space has a variety of wildlife, active farming, fellow outdoor enthusiasts and links to acequia irrigation routes.