MONTREAL -- With international travel difficult amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an Eastern Townships farm is experiencing a boom in business from those seeking to explore more locally.

Stanstead's Bleu Lavande is making a reputation for itself due to its photogenic fields of lavender, a product for which they are also seeing an uptick in demand.

“We expect to be up about 30 to 35 per cent in terms of visitors,” said co-owner Nathalie Nessari. “We chat with our visitors and they'll say 'This year it's about discovering our province and visiting local destinations.'”

In other years, many of the farm's visitors are from the United States, but the pandemic has closed the border with that country for months. The pandemic also caused the farm to open to the public a month later than usual.

“We started out slowly and then as soon as we opened, the boom came,” said foreman Michel Lamarche. “A lot of people came, more than we ever thought would.”

Nessari said the lavender fields are a perfect place to exercise physical distance while still relaxing and enjoying the outdoors.

“Simply walking through the rows of lavender, you're basically respecting the two metres from one row to another,” she said. “What I really love to do is touch the flowers. It's really fascinating how when you caress the flowers, run them through your fingers, then you an smell your fingers and you get the pure lavender smell.”

Usually the farm extracts oil from the lavender, but that process requires workers to be too close together so production has been shut for the year. Instead, they're selling the flowers themselves.

“A lot of people are fixing up around their houses, they're planting flowers, trees and the lavender just fits in the whole outfit.”