Columbia Farmers Market

the farmers behind the market

The Lookout Farm: Sisters turn lavender fields dreams into reality

The sister duo who envisioned the gorgeous lavender fields of The Lookout Farm personify the grit necessary to build a family farm from scratch. With little to no large-scale farming experience, Kelly Wisch with husband Ryan, and Kimie Grimm with husband Aaron, applied plenty of gumption to do just that.

It all began when Kelly had an epiphany while walking home from a community garden plot in downtown Columbia. Kelly’s daughter Rosie urged her to cross the street in order to get a closer look at a neighbor’s row of lavender. Struck by the overwhelming aroma of the fresh lavender and the winged life teeming around the purple flowers, Kelly went home abuzz with ideas. She mentioned the idea of starting their very own lavender farm to Ryan, and he answered simply with, “Well, let’s look into it.” With her excitement bubbling over, she introduced the idea of a lavender farm to her sister Kimie and brother-in-law Aaron. The plan for a farm began to take shape, and a location for their lavender farm was selected. 

The sisters’ lavender fields are nestled in the rolling hills of the Rocheport countryside. The rocky and hilly topography of the Missouri River Valley is essential to the health of their lavender field.

“Lavender’s biggest enemy is an excess of water,” Kelly said. “When we first saw the hillsides, we felt like this farm was meant to be. It’s the perfect location for our purposes, as the topography would be too challenging for most other crops.” The original farmhouse on the property became drying rooms for the freshly harvested lavender, which requires hand-picking every 2 to 3 weeks in the late spring and summer months.

In just one year, the natural hillsides were transformed into mounded rows of purple lavender. The pathways of gravel help with drainage and reflect light up at the base of the plants. The sisters decided that planting culinary varieties of lavender on one side of the hillside and oil producing varieties of lavender on the other side would provide a larger variety of products for their customers. Their handmade goods include: body care products, culinary items, home goods, and lavender bundles.

Both sisters graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in human development and family sciences, so their passion to share their farm with school children and anyone interested in starting their own farm comes naturally. The farm is open to the public on most summer weekends, and guided tours are offered for schools and groups of 10 or more.

Although May 2019 was their first introduction to selling at the market, the support of their new customers has meant the world to Kelly and Kimie. “Market customers are so encouraging. Customers have been intrigued with the growing process, and everyone is very supportive,” Kelly said. “People who love lavender really love it. We have some hardcore lavender fans at our market. We’re excited to educate our customers about the varieties of lavender and its many uses.”

Visit their website at lavenderlookout.com.

"We’re excited to educate our customers about the varieties of lavender and its many uses.”
-Kelly Wisch & Kimie Grimm
Columbia Farmers Market
Website and Branding by Hoot Design Co.
Photography by Drew Piester.
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