At a short distance from Ungheni, an aromatic explosion of purple lavender is collected to be transformed into essential oil. After a short study visit in France, Nicolae Granciuc, the owner of the business and Blindesti WUA member, claims that he was impressed by the beauty of the plants, and decided that this is the business he wants to invest in. Several years later, Granciuc family runs a successful business of lavender products, and especially, essential oil.
The sort selected by the farmer is a local one, Moldoveanca 4, created by the Institute for Genetics, Physiology and the Protection of Plants from Chisinau. Nicolae argues that this specific sort is welded to the local weather conditions, a factor which would significantly diminish the risks associated with the growing of the plants.
In total, the farmer cultivates 11 hectares of lavender, of which 3 hectares are older and 8 hectares planted in 2018. In the middle of the collection season, Nicolae estimated that he will get 5-6 tons of plants per hectare. In order to become more competitive on the market, Nicolae wanted to use the flowers not only in a decorative way, and a more profitable option is the essential oil, recognized as the most versatile oil due its properties and the ways in which could be used.
Right behind the purple lavender field, there is the mini-factory for the processing of plants and production of essential oil, built this year by the entrepreneur. The farmer states that, based on his previous experience, the safest way to maintain the productivity of the plants and to ensure the quality of the essential oil is to have access to your own distillery. This way, the farmer decided to buy and build his own small factory for the plant processing, for a good quality and an advantage on the market. The modern equipment brought from France was an expensive investment, however, the Granciuc family remains optimistic about the recovering these expenses in the future.
The whole process of transforming the freshly picked plants into essential oil is a fascinating one, at least for the visitors. As Nicolae Granciunc explains, the process entails the heating of the plants through steam, at lower temperatures than the boiling point, so the therapeutic properties are not affected. The heat and steam help the cellular of the plant to discompose and to release the essential oil. The molecules are then transported, together with the steam, along a small tube, which is channeled afterwards in a cooling reservoir and is transformed into liquid. This liquid represents a combination of oil and water. Because essential oils are not soluble in water, these can be separated and then easily evacuated by siphoning.
After the process is done, the essential oil is filtered again to ensure that no impurities or left over from the plants are in the oil. The final essential oil is then stored in special stainless steel recipients and it is very important to keep it in a cold and dark place. In these conditions, the oil can be stored safely up to 4 years.
On average, from one ton of plants, the farmer gets 15 kilograms of oil. „But it depends a lot on the weather conditions, in the last days we made less oil, because there was wind and low temperatures, which reduced the concentration from the plants,” explains Nicolae. Out of the 11 hectares of lavender, both mature and younger, the farmer hopes to obtain approximately 300 kilograms of essential oil.
The family involved in the business is still looking for buyers and ideally, they would like to sell their product abroad. In terms of plans for the future, Granciuc family wants to get involved in the cosmetics business as well with their lavender products, using special recipes bought from abroad. In 2019, the entrepreneur also became a member of the Association for lavender producers in Moldova, the association with other lavender producers from the country offering him an advantage on the local market.
About the cultivation of the plants, although it is not an extremely pretentious culture, the lavender has to be irrigated. Throughout the year, Nicolae Granciuc claims that he irrigates the lands approximately four times. „It is very important to irrigate the plants in spring, when the plant is in the growing phase, and then after the plant is collected, because it is more vulnerable at this point, and during the summer and autumn if there is drought,” explains the farmer.
The versatility and profitability of the lavender culture, the favorable land and weather conditions for the growing of the plantation here in Moldova have determined Nicolae Granciuc to invest in a business with lavender. Moreover, with the construction of his own lavender distillery, the farmer is convinced that the demand for the essential oil on the external market, as well as the innovation in his lavender field will help him to further develop his passion.