Find Your Passion
Everyone needs an escape, now more than ever. Here's how five Coloradans found their passions—and how you can find yours.
Mike Richters, 50
By Peter Bronski
Catch Mike Richters out among the rows of lavender in rural Boulder County, and you'd never imagine that only a few years ago he was a buttoned-up financial adviser. It was a job he appreciated, but not one he could keep once the idea of opening his own farm leapt to mind. Today, a rumpled baseball cap casts a shadow over Richters' face as his fingers examine the plants. "When I'm out here I have both a psychological and a physical response to the lavender," he says. "I'm always looking for that one sprig of green to rub between my fingers." Richters' place, a pick-your-own-lavender farm, attracts hundreds of agri-tourists on summer weekends. And that, he says, is another soul-satisfying part of the job: "The people who come to lavender farms are enjoyable people."
The Appeal Richters' farm gives him things his old job didn't: the opportunity to own his own business, the ability to work outside, and the chance to combine his agricultural background (he grew up farming in Nebraska) with his business skills. "But the thing I love the most about this job is the creativity," he says. "I'm always working to make the farm more beautiful, to come up with new products—I'm even planting a lavender labyrinth."
The Commitment It wasn't an easy decision for Richters to quit his day job, but he knew the farm was his real dream. So he learned about growing lavender and then planted 14,000 plants in 2007. Richters will tell you his farm was worth the wait—but he'll also say his days are long and hard. He fiddles with irrigation, weeds endless rows, and coaxes his plants through frosty winters. Aching back and sore fingers, yes, but every minute he spends on his farm is like a customized aromatherapy session. "The scent absolutely captivates me."
Do It Yourself Visit Colorado Mountain View Lavender and ask Richters about his farm. To grow your own, consult Lavender: The Grower's Guide, by Virginia McNaughton and Joan L. Headley.