Archive for farming

Three Herbs for Skin Care

Why do we use herbs in skin care when there are so many scientific actives to choose from? Herbs are complex chemical factories that are churning out a multitude of their own antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Many of these active compounds in herbs have not even yet been identified, but we know that they do good for our skin. Herbs are also a renewable resource that we grow right here on our own farm. By sourcing in this way you get a more sustainable, farm to skin product. Herbs grown at higher elevation such as in Colorado are thought to be richer in aroma and active ingredients. Our herbs are grown under the watchful eyes of Long’s Peak and Mount Meeker that rise in the distance.

Some of our favorite herbs to use in skin care include:Calendula Basket

Calendula (Calendula officinalis). This small orange flower produces a resin that has been found to stimulate wound healing; part of the mechanism involves increased collagen production. Calendula is rich in vitamin A related components (carotenoids) which benefit skin. It has often been used for treating skin problems such as dermatitis and eczema. Calendula also provides a n abundant number of antioxidants which can help reduce skin damage caused by the environment, it is especially useful for dry and damaged skin. You can find calendula extract in Springtide Face Cream, Oasis Spray Lotion,  Mountain Mist Hand and Body Lotion,  Knuckle Balm, and Sole Pleasure Foot Butter. Calendula is an annual that we plant each summer and harvest throughout the summer.

Mint (Mentha x piperita). Mint is such an fresh and uplifting scent, and has a cooling feeling on the skin or when eaten. The menthol is mint also has pain relieving qualities which is why we use it in our Herbal Foot Soak. Mint contains antioxidants, beta carotene, vitamin C, and B-complex as well as vitamin-K. Mint is toning to the skin and is great for hair as well. You’ll find mint in our Mint Lip Balm, Angel Falls Shampoo, Botanical Salt Scrubs,  Sole Pleasure Foot Butter, Chalk Creek Deodorant Powder, Oasis Spray Lotion and Clear Creek Hand and Body Cleanser. Mint is a perennial and comes back strong every year without replanting. Each year our mint patch gets a little bigger which is good because each year we need a little more. We also distill mint for the hydrosol to use as a facial mister.

mint

Lavender (Lavandula officinalis and Lavandin x intermedia). Lavender is by far my favorite herb to grow and it’s beauty and aroma are captivating. Lavender is a great crop for the typically dry climate of Colorado. Lavender is a very calming and anti-anxiety herb, for the nervous system as well as for the skin. Its great in a spa experience as it helps a person relax. Most of what we know about lavender is it’s aromatherapy benefits but it is helpful for most skin types but especially on dry and inflammed skin. Lavender also provides antioxidants to the skin.  Products that contain lavender include Allure Lip Balm, Angel Falls Shampoo, Chalk Creek Powder, Lavender Rose Body Oil, Botanical Salt Scrubs, Lavender Scented Mountain Mist Hand and Body Lotion, Coolness Aftershave Lotion and Herbal Foot Soak. We also distill lavender to make lavender water for use as a face mister.

lavender_cut Lavender is a perennial that comes back each year. It doesn’t spread like the mint does, and we plant more and more lavender each year. The past few years, our area has gotten much more rainfall than normal which has caused some problems for our lavender and many have died.

We grow over 30 different herbs for use in our Colorado Aromatics Cultivated Skin Care Line.  We’ll let you know about more of them in another blog post.

August Farm Tour

Have you always wanted to visit a small herb farm? Do you want to learn more about growing herbs and their uses? Do you want to see where the Colorado Aromatics herbs are grown? Now you can. August 28, 2015 we will host a small tour on our farm. We’d love to invite any area estheticians, any of our local customers or would be customers, as well as anyone interested in herbs. You’ll get a good look at where we grow the herbs to use in the Colorado Aromatics Cultivated Skin Care line.

Farm Tour August 28

We are nearing the end of our growing season so the work load is less, but we always welcome volunteers on the farm. In fact, during this tour, feel free to pull up a weed or two, just make sure you ask as many things that other people consider weeds, we consider herbs. Plantain for instance is one of our favorite herbs. But we have plenty of easily identifiable grass, stickers and bindweed to pull.

We will hold the tour rain or shine (or frost) so dress accordingly – we are farmers after all, and wear sturdy shoes. Its a good idea to bring a water bottle too.

We do not have products available for purchase on the farm but we invite you to visit our store at the corner of 3rd and Lashley (340 Lashley, unit 220), an 8 minute drive from the farm, to purchase products. Our esthetician will be at the store immediately following the tour in case you have questions about how to use the products.

Meet on the farm on Aug 28 at 10:00. Park on the concrete drive in front of the garage, or on the grass, off the gravel drive on the north side. Walk down the gravel drive on the north side of the house and meet in front of the outbuilding with the purple door.  Who knows, this may be the first ‘annual’ farm tour. Email us for more information and the address; info @ sagescript.com

Summer Farm Pictures

It is sometimes hard to find the time to blog this time of year as we are so busy harvesting and drying herbs to use the rest of the year in our skin care products. I thought I’d share a little with you.

lavender and bee

We’ve been harvesting lavender this week. There is a bee in this shot although it is out of focus. Do you see it, right about in the middle?

clary sage

Here is clary sage. We will harvest and distill that soon.

 

 

Calendula flowersCalendula harvesting goes on until frost. The more we pick, the more it grows. We love using calendula in our products.

cut tube

I got a little carried away with weeding and cut through our drip hose.

muddy boots

We irrigated yesterday which makes things very muddy. Here are my boots after working in the field.

Radish Festival

The Longmont Farmers Market this weekend is having a radish festival and farmers will come with all things radishes.  Colorado Aromatics will also be there with a skin care tonic made from radishes!

radish

Radishes come in many colors and nutritionally are high in vitamin C (great for increasing collagen in the skin), folates, vitamin B-6, riboflavin, thiamin, iron, magnesium copper, calcium. They are also high in glucosinolates which are important for supporting detox. They are high in vitamin A related compounds such as zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene. Avoid radishes though if you have a thyroid disfunction.

Glucosinolates are a class of sulfur containing chemicals found in cruciferous vegetables. They include indole-3-carbinol and isothiocyanates (sulforaphane). These these are antioxidants and stimulate phase 1\I and II detoxification enzymes in epithelial tissue including skin as well as liver. Glucosinolates are also important in stimulating blood capillaries and reducing water retention. This property can be useful in relieving muscular aches and pains including arthritis.

Try this skin care tips with radish:

Grate 2-3 radishes into a small jar; enough to half way fill the jar.  You can cut some of the leaves in there too. Then  fill the jar with vinegar. Let this set several days so the vinegar can extract the glucosinolates from the radish.  Filter the radishes out and its ready to use. You can see the nice pink color the vinegar turns in this picture.

Radish Vinegar

The radish vinegar can be diluted half and half with water and used as a hair rinse and for a scalp massage. The radish will increase circulation to the scalp which will improve the health of your hair follicles and improve hair growth and strength. It can also help decrease dandruff.

A second great way to use your radish vinegar is to add about half a cup to a foot bath. This will help relieve tired, aching feet.

Need a third tip? Dilute the vinegar about 1 to 10 with water and blot it on the face with a  cotton ball to use as a toner.

If you come to the Longmont farmers market Saturday you can see our vinegar. Stay tuned, there will be other veggie festivals at the market that we will also write skin care tips for.

 

Herbal Extracts

I have people ask me that since our products contain herbs, do we still make them in the winter when it is not growing season. The answer is ‘YES’, we make products regularly so they are fresh, and we do it by making herbal extracts. The process is that during the summer we grow and harvest our herbs on our Certified Naturally  Grown Farm. Most of them get dried on racks in our ‘herb hut’, however, some of them, such as lavender, get distilled fresh to use as our facial hydrators or toners as well as to use in our products. We store them on our farm in the dried form and make extracts from them. Here you see calendula and chamomile on our shelf. Calendula is by far the herb we use the most of in our products. You can read more about the benefits of calendula here. We store the herbs roughly alphabetically.


calendula and chamomile

 

The extracts can be extracted in oil, alcohol or water depending upon the product. You can read more about the science of herb extracts here. We then store these extracts in our lab in jars for use in our products.  It is these herb extracts that go into the products, except of course for our dried herb blends that are used for bath teas and dream pillows. All winter long we are making products that use these herb extracts in them and we make new extracts as needed.  Here you see some of the oil extracts on our shelf.


Herb Oils

 

Using herbs grown on our farm is part of our ‘Farm to Skin’ philosophy that means we oversee the process from the time the seed is planted until the final product goes in the jar. You know you are getting a quality product when you purchase Colorado Aromatics.

The Farm in Winter

Although I do enjoy winter and the decreased work load that comes with farming, I am anxious for warmer weather. Here is what the farm looks like today.

 

lavender in snow

Lavender almost buried in snow.

 

 

icicles

Icicles hanging from the shed.

 

nina in snow

Our dog likes to play in the snow.

 

Mary barn

Mary, our goat likes the barn when its cold.

 

What is Farm to Skin?

 

Longs and Meeker Peaks

Longs and Meeker Peaks

There is a new revolution in skin care today, that of  ‘Farm to Skin’. It rises from the philosophy of green, wholesome, and fresh.  It parallels the Farm to Table movement where consumers want more knowledge about their food, where it comes from and how it is grown.  To us Farm to Skin is a way to bring the most healthy benefits to the skin as well a provide a more sustainable business model. We farm herbs on Colorado Aromatics family farm which gives us an intimate bond with the earth; the soil, the seasons, the weather. It means we are in it for the long haul and have planted an abundant amount of herbs that we know are beneficial to the skin. Our farm has been Certified Naturally Grown.

My morning involves feeding my goats and chickens before starting work. Regardless of whether it is 90 degrees or there is 3 feet of snow, I get outside first thing in the morning. This helps connect me to the earth and gives me an awareness to start the day. In the distance Longs Peak and Mount Meeker rise as guardians to our farm.

We harvest our herbs and dry them carefully in our herb hut for later extracts. Some of the herbs we harvest and put immediately into our still while fresh for extraction by distillation. When we make herb extracts we are extracting important components from the herbs that encompass antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, cell rejuvenators, skin softeners, and even anti-viral properties in some cases.

Farm to Skin means all natural; choosing ingredients that are agricultural and renewable which not only keeps our business sustainable but helps other sustainable businesses. That doesn’t mean chemistry is not involved. Unfortunately chemistry has gotten a bad wrap. Plants are actually small chemical factories that produce an abundance of phytochemicals that promote health. It is also possible to create renewable, sustainable green products in a lab using the proper techniques and knowledge. This is called ‘green chemistry’. Every time we cook we are using green chemistry.

Farm to skin means a holistic approach that protects the health and well being of the individual and the planet. It means authentic and artisanal. We make all of our products by hand on our farm so we know everything about them. We make them feel luxurious on the skin and use ingredients that really work. It means that all of our products contain herbs that are grown on our farm. We believe that the beauty of the herbs and the beauty of our environment shines through in our products.

Our products grew out of our presence at the farmers market and wanting to provide farmers market customers with an alternative to the mass marketed products found on the store shelves.  Customers who want the best food and want to know their farmers are also wanting an artisan, natural skin care product that comes from the farm and really works.

Our products are designed for consumers looking for a less invasive treatment that doesn’t require an office visit. We formulate for people who like the outdoors, who hike, bike, climb, camp, farm/garden, swim or just enjoy being outside. The benefit of our ingredients is that they repair skin damage caused by the environment; the sun, wind, altitude and having fun outdoors. We also call this philosophy ‘Cultivated Skin Care’ and hope to cultivate new ways of thinking and doing. Colorado Aromatics is different than the rest, are you?

 

Herbs to Plant Now

Herbs n Oils

Herbs n Oils

 

We grow many herbs on our farm that we use in products. Here are a few that are already coming up this spring and you could plant them right now.  These are very easy to grow herbs.

Parsley is  great in salads. It is high in Vitamins A, C and K and the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, and potassium.

Mint can be used in salads or teas. It is rich in Vitamins A and C and high in the minerals magnesium, copper, iron, potassium, and calcium. There are many varieties to choose from.

Lemon balm (part of the mint family) makes a great tea; mix with green tea or mint. It is rich in many antioxidants and helps reduce anxiety, promote sleep. It can inhibit the virus that causes the cold sore which is why we use it in our Herbal Relief Lip Balm.

Sage can be used in cooking; its great with beans, eggs or garlic. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties and combats inflammation. Drink it as a tea when you have a sore throat. It may be able to boost memory and improve bone health. It is of course one of our favorites as our parent company, Sagescript Institute, is named for sage.

Thyme is used in cooking especially with soups, eggs or beans. It is rich in vitamins A and C. It has great antibacterial and antifungal properties which means it makes a great tea for a sore throat.  You can also use a thyme tea as a face wash for acne. I like to make a thyme infused honey.

 

Saving the Harvest

Many of us are at that desperate time of year when we are trying to harvest as many herbs as possible before Jack Frost takes them. I cut some mint today because I remember how nice a hot cup of mint tea tastes in the winter. Here are a few tips for drying your herbs.

Cut a bunch of stems about the diameter of your thumb.

Wrap a rubber band around them to secure the ends of the stem.

Hang upside down somewhere warm and dry. I have an ‘herb hut’ outside where I do this, but you could find a place in your kitchen or living space too. Hanging herbs can be very attractive.

Let the bunch hang like this for a few weeks until brittle to the touch. Take the herbs down and using clean fingers strip the dry leaves from the stem and store in a glass jar – labeled of course with the name of the herb and the date.

Remember over the winter that you have these and put some in teas as well as cooking.

For larger amounts of herbs we dry them on shelves on a bakers rack or for flowers we typically dry them in baskets as below.

However you plan to do it, get out now to cut your herbs before its too late.

Seed to Soap

We often call our type of products ‘Farm to Skin’ to emphasize the importance and benefits of the herbs we grow. As I was making pumpkin soap I thought of  ‘Seed to Soap’ and wanted to illustrate that here.

First we plant the seeds and care for them; watering and weeding. But before that we till the soil and add nutrients in the form of manure and compost.

We patiently wait as the vines grow and produce pumpkins, hoping that the squirrels, birds and rabbits don’t take too much.

When its ready, we cut the pumpkin from the vine and spend some time enjoying it beautiful shape and color. Then we roast it in the oven for awhile.

We scoop out the pulp, mash it, and include it in our soap formula along with just a little cinnamon and clove essential oils.

 

After making the soap and cutting it, we cure it for 4 weeks on our shelf before wrapping it and bringing it to market to sell. See that beautiful orange color? We don’t add anything but pumpkin in there to color it so you know that the great orange color is vitamin A. Do you think this is going to be good for your skin? You betcha!