Follow-Up File: Green Acres Lavender Farm closes

Name: Bob Bostwick

Job: Owner

Business: Green Acres Lavender

What they said then:

In May 2010, The Tribune featured tips on growing lavender from Green Acres Lavender Farm owners Bob Bostwick and Janice Silva.

The husband-and-wife bought more than 4 acres on San Gabriel Road in 1998 and raised chickens, cattle and fruit. They switched to lavender in 2004, planting 3 acres and operating a nursery and farm store.

“We realized there was no lavender farm in the county, but they were all over Europe and even in Santa Ynez,” Silva said.

Finding the Atascadero climate a perfect match for the Mediterranean perennial herb, the couple saw several other lavender businesses open on the Central Coast over the years.

Open daily, Green Acres appealed to tourists and also hosted art, cooking and exercise classes.

What he says now:

In December, the Atascadero farm closed when Bostwick and Silva sold the property and relocated to Orange County.

After breaking her leg, Silva had four surgeries and was unable to work for nearly two years, her husband said. That started a financial downward spiral from which the family couldn’t recover.

“Without her driving it, it kind of fell apart,” Bostwick said. “We may relaunch the whole thing under a different name. I don’t know at this point.”

He felt overwhelmed taking on the public relations and “entertainment” side of agritourism. They fell behind in their mortgage payments and finally opted for a short sale.

Public records indicate the property, with its four-bedroom home, sold for $650,000.

“We were living the dream. We met people from all over the world,” Bostwick said. “Every penny that we had, we kept putting back into the property.”

Now in Corona Del Mar and closer to family, Bostwick works his former trade, construction, and soon will begin collecting Social Security payments. Silva manages a spa in Laguna Beach.

They retain the Green Acres Lavender name and label. Working with Southern California spas, they hope to sell off remaining stock from the Atascadero store.

“I’m still a farmer at heart,” Bostwick said. “Not in my wildest dreams did I believe I would live in Southern California again.”

The farm is listed in tourism guides, so they still get calls from Central Coast visitors who haven’t heard of its closure.

Meanwhile, the lavender trade continues to grow, Bostwick observed. Local vendors find niches in which to thrive, such as selling wholesale or at farmers markets.

“I think that the industry is still exciting and it’s always trending up,” he said. “The lavender industry on the Central Coast is growing by leaps and bounds.”