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Business Blooms in Madison County

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RadioIQ
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There are more than four hundred bed and breakfasts in Virginia, trading on beautiful scenery or fine wine.  In Madison County there’s a small inn known to travelers for its smell.  Sandy Hausman stopped by Solstice Farm for a sniff.

Innkeeper Anita Hasbury-Snogles and her husband discovered America on horseback.

“We came here in 2007 to ride horses around the country," she recalls. "That was kind of our big quest – our big thing that we were going to do in our life that was different, and we managed about 35 states before we ran out of money.” 

By then, she had decided to make her home in some of the prettiest horse country around.

“Virginia has a nice mix of trees and open land," she explains.  "It’s not far from the sea, not far from the mountains. It’s not the South.  It’s not the North.  So the weather is kind of between.  It’s just one of those places where there’s kind of everything within reach. “

She settled on 13 acres in Madison County – land sloping gently toward a pond filled with fish and snapping turtles.

“Our neighbor used to swim in it when he was a kid," says son Tom.  "We told him he can go first,” Anita adds with a smile.

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Credit RadioIQ
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Anita Hasbury-Snogles and her son Tom lure guests to Solstice Farm with rows and rows of lavender.

Tom, who had studied horticulture and landscaping, agreed to come and help with his mother’s new venture.  As a pioneer in the field of aromatherapy she had always loved lavender.

“I’ve always had an understanding of essential oils, and the two oils that I would always keep with me were lavender and frankincense, because they’re so useful and important in balancing our lives.”

They’re growing more than a thousand plants, hoping to extract essential oils from some flowers and to dry others for use in pillows and sachets.   

After renovating the farmhouse, Hasbury-Snogles also opened a bed and breakfast with garden and mountain views.

“There’s no real point in having something nice unless you share it with people.”

And during this time of COVID, it turned out many people were looking for a place where they could breathe deeply and recover from the stress of a pandemic.

“It’s great to just come here, relax and heal and be surrounded by bees and lavender, and it’s therapeutic. We’re always full up thru the summer.  We do try and take time off here and there to just sit and smell the roses as they usually say – smell the lavender.

For those who can’t get away for a night , there are lavender farms open to the pubic in Harrisonburg, Glen Allen, Fairfield, Castleton, Riner, Culpeper and Meadows of Dan offering a range of activities from gardening classes and tours to pick-your-own flowers and lavender facials.  

Sandy Hausman joined our news team in 2008 after honing her radio skills in Chicago. Since then, she's won several national awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Radio, Television and Digital News Association and the Public Radio News Directors' Association.