Did you know that Europe’s largest lavender field, with an area of 120 hectares, is located in Crimea?

In this post I’ll tell you about essential oil production and show you some photographs of an incomplete essential oil processing plant.

In its present unfinished state it looks just like any other chemical factory, its only distinctive features being the thick, luxurious summer greenery that is gradually taking over the structures, and the surrounding views.

Lavender has always been especially popular in the industry, being a perennial plant that can bloom for 25 to 30 years and even up to 40 years with proper treatment.

“Our essential oils and medical plants institution was the only one in the USSR that processed more that 350 metric tons of essential oil raw materials a day.

Every year we produced more than 100 metric tons of esssential oils with some of that even sold to France,” says Vladimir Pashtetsky, the director of the Agricultural Institute of Crimea.

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“In 1989, we exported more than 30 metric tons of the fragrant produce.”

However, the industry couldn’t make it through the 1990s, just like many others.

While essential oil plants cultivation is gradually increasing in the region, establishing their own processing facilities on an industrial scale is still something the Agriculture Institute can only dream about.

Construction works at the plant shown in this post started in the early 1990s (you can see “1991” written on the pipe of the boiler house).

30 years have passed, but the metallic frameworks have miraculously survived, either because the site was well guarded with some intentions of further use or maybe simply because hunters for scrap metal haven’t found their way here yet.

The greenery is gradually taking up the whole area. There are abandoned lavender plantations not far from the plant, but if you are already late for the blooming season, it makes sense to come here during the fall: there are lots of blackberry bushes growing inside the building.

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Right now there is only one privately owned production plant in Crimea that uses modern technology for processing of essential oil plants.

The technology used for extraction allows to increase the output of oils from 16 percent (for roses) up to 43 percent (for sage), and for nonvolatile oils from 18 percent (roses) to 42 percent (lavender).

The climatic conditions are also great – the elevation is 320 m (approx. 1050 ft) above sea level, and the best essential oils come from plants that grow 450-550 m (approx. 1500-1800 ft) above sea level, like they do in France.

Images by lana-sator

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