Lavender sales are surging during the coronavirus pandemic

By Alexis Benveniste, CNN Business

    (CNN) -- Lavender sales are surging as peopleseek relief from stress and sleep deprivation during the pandemic.

Castle Farm, the UK's largest lavender grower, said its "sleep oil" sales have quadrupled during the pandemic. Demand is also up at Pleasant Valley Lavender Farm in New Jersey, which said it's seen more customers looking for stress relief this summer.

Lorna Roberts, a family farmer at Castle Farm, said the farm's lavender sleep oil sales have quadrupled during the pandemic.

While lavender has long been touted by some as a natural remedy for anxiety, insomnia and various other ailments, there is no scientific backing for those claims.

But it does smell nice.

"When there was the Great Plague in London, doctors would have lavender stashed into the front of their face masks to help keep the stench of the plague away," said Roberts. "It has been heralded for centuries for its antiseptic antibacterial uses," she added.

Castle Farm, which grows about 130 acres of lavender, used its crop to make a less-sterile-smelling hand sanitizer during the pandemic. "We wanted to have one that worked really well, but also had a fragrance after you'd used it once the alcohol had cleared," said Roberts.

Roberts said a lot of the farm's customers were sending stay-at-home care packages to family and friends they couldn't visit in person.

"Seeing some of the gift messages going out with those packs was really heartwarming," she said.

At Pleasant Valley Lavender Farm, owner Ellen Karcher said there's been an uptick in interest this summer, particularly as a demand for stress reliever.

Karcher said the farm is usually open to the public, with July as the peak month of the growing season. But this summer the farm shifted to appointment-only visits. "We definitely saw an increase in demand for people to make appointments as word got out about what we offered here," she said.

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