Store shelves are stocked with so many products from all over the world that it can be hard to decide which to use and what to buy. Labels that proudly proclaim items to be cruelty-free, toxin-free, Fair Trade, non-GMO and certified organic can help guide us as consumers to make a decision and ensure that the products we put on and in our bodies have a light footprint and are free from harmful chemicals.
We absolutely believe that products do not need chemicals or additives to make you feel radiant, and we are proud to have our skin and body care products certified by CertClean. So why isn't our farm certified organic?
This is a question we are often asked and for good reason! Our customers want the reassurance that the quality of our herbs hasn't been compromised, and that the ingredients in our products won't be detrimental to their health. The reality is that the long and very expensive process to become certified organic is unfortunately cost-prohibitive for a small farm like us - the irony being that it is difficult to obtain certification to prove that we don't use chemicals, rather than the other way around.
But that doesn't change what we believe. Just because we aren't certified organic doesn't mean that we farm any differently than if we were.
For us, farming is a privilege; one that has instilled in us a great respect for the land and a commitment to leaving it better than we found it. As such, we have spent the past twenty years converting our property from a conventional apple orchard (which did use sprays) to a sustainable herb farm that embraces regenerative agriculture (and is therefore spray-free).
We embrace strategic, thoughtful and proactive farming practices each and every day. We hoe, weed, prune and harvest our crops by hand to mitigate emissions. We use compost and mulch to naturally fertilize. We use integrated pest management to monitor plant health, and walk daily amongst our plants to ensure any problems are caught early. Most of our plants are drought-tolerant and require minimal irrigation, and all leftover plant debris is composted on-site.
And on top of everything else, our garden's ecosystem acts as a nectar corridor for pollinators and a habitat for insects, birds and small animals. Over the years, factors such as monoculture farming and urbanization have contributed to a decrease in floral diversity, making it difficult for migrating pollinators to find nectar and pollinate. The plants in our garden bloom in waves, providing food for pollinators throughout the season, and our pond offers them a necessary water source, especially during the long, hot days of summer.
So no, we are not certified organic. But our herbs are grown without the use of any harmful sprays or chemical fertilizers. We pick them at their peak, and immediately dry or distill them, right here on our property. They aren't being trucked off to another location.
If they are being dried, we bring them straight into our custom-built herb drying room, which is passively cooled by an Earth-Air exchange system and gradually dries the herbs without heat to preserve their fragrance and flavour.
If they are being distilled, we load the freshly picked stems, flowers and petals into laundry baskets which we pull in a wagon (yes, a wagon!) to our still.
In our kitchen, we prepare our products by hand with whisks, measuring cups, double boilers and mixing bowls, usually to the tune of an old CD humming away in the background. The ingredients that we can't grow ourselves, we source from trusted, transparent and sustainable suppliers with organic, ethical and Fair Trade options. We then carefully package the finished products in containers that can be reused, recycled or composted.
We completely understand the need for transparency in the online world and the role that official certifications have in building consumer confidence. And while we may not have organic certification, what we do have is our commitment to do right by the earth, to farm as sustainably as we can, and to consider the impact our actions have today, tomorrow and into the future.
Interested in learning more about how you can make a positive impact on your local pollinator habitats? Join us in the worldwide movement to create local ARKs - Acts of Restorative Kindness that help restore native ecosystems that provide sanctuary to wildlife.