New Kids on the Block
Introducing the New Members to the Maison/Made Farm
With the new growing season already here, our minds are currently focused on the Maison/Made farm in Burgundy. After the final harvest last year, we put the land to rest by planting some winter crops, protecting the perennials from extreme weather, and then simply leaving the soil to hibernate. Having done so has given us a greater potential for this year’s crops, since the soil has had the time and nutrients needed to regenerate. And now will come all the new plants that we are introducing to the farm! Some will receive their own brand new plots (we doubled our plot size this year) and some will either be in pots or share a space in our “experimental bed”, where we introduce new plants to test if they like our soil and have the ability to thrive or not.
The process of selecting the new plants for 2019 was both exhaustive and exciting. Knowing that we still operate with a small team we knew that we couldn’t introduce ALL the plants that we were attracted to. Of course we kept all the plants that we grew in 2018, and because they all survived the 2nd hottest summer on record for France, we are confident that their offspring should be vibrant and strong. We started with a list of over 60 plants we want to (eventually) grow on the farm and, somewhat painstakingly, whittled the list down to 20… Not exactly a small list, but hey, the sooner the better right?
Of the 20 I’ll highlight 5 of the plants that we are excited about introducing to the farm. Some of these will make it directly into the Restorative Antioxidant Serum, and others into products that are still currently in the development stages (yes, more are coming!). If you are interested in reading more about the ones we planted in 2018, head over to our earlier post about why some of these plants were chosen.
Gotu Kola (botanical name: Centella asiatica) is a plant that’s been linked to medicinal properties for over 3000 years. It is found in most tropical and subtropical countries, growing in swampy areas, including parts of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, South Africa, and Eastern Europe. That being said, it adapts easily and now grows in many climates (for those of you who noticed that Burgundy is not tropical nor subtropical). In regards to the skin, its extract is a rich source of natural bioactive substances: triterpenoids, volatile oils, flavonoids, phenolic acids, amino acids and sugars. It is known to be healing, improving circulation and elasticity. It also has a positive effect on varicose veins and stretch marks, as well as eczema and psoriasis.
Oats (botanical name: Avena sativa) are a wonderful and nourishing plant and a personal favorite of mine. My mom still tells people stories of how I used to clog our bathtub with oats as a teenager (even then I was a fan of using them as a body scrub/mask… 😳) Later I learned about the different uses of oats. They’ve been used in skincare since the earliest times, where they would boil finely ground oats to create a colloidal substance used in topical treatments. “Milky” oats are the oat grains harvested when they are in an early stage during which the grains release a white, milky sap when squeezed. This stage, which lasts approximately one week, happens after the oat begins flowering and before the seed hardens which is when the oat grain becomes what we eat as oatmeal. Oatstraw is the name given to the stem of the oat plant harvested during the milky oat stage, when it is still green, and contains silica and other minerals needed for strong hair, skin, and nails. The milky emollients released from oats into water are very soothing to irritated skin.
Burdock (Botanical name: Arctium lappa) is a wonderful plant whose root is of major interest to herbalists and holistic skincare formulators. Rosemary Gladstar (renowned in the field of herbalism) considers burdock as the best herb for the skin. It can help with eczema, psoriasis, acne, and other skin imbalances which shows its versatility combating inflammation and soothing nature across a variety of skin conditions. It is a great example of a plant that farmers have traditionally hated and considered a weed, but for herbalists it is a wondrous plant. It’s so powerful it’s even part of a well-known Native American anti-cancer formula called Essiac, which is still used today.
Rockrose (botanical name: Cistus ladaniferus) is a small shrub that develops distinctive white flowers with red markings. The resin in rockrose was used in the Middle Ages to treat wounds, ulcers, dysentery, diarrhea, and catarrh. Like many of the plants we choose for Maison/Made products, rockrose is a fantastic component for aging gracefully, as it is an astringent that reduces wrinkles and fine lines. Because of its inherently strong anti-aging powers, when alongside other powerful oils, it is also excellent for a wide range of other skin imbalances. A truly beautiful and powerful plant we are excited to begin to propagate.
Horsetail (botanical name: Equisetum arvense) looks like some sort of elevated type of grass where the tips vaguely resemble the tail of a horse. Another herb that’s been used for hundreds of years, it was historically primarily used internally as a diuretic that increases blood circulation, helps treat infections, and alleviate arthritis. Maybe better known in haircare, horsetail has also some amazing benefits for the skin in that it has a large amount of “silicon” in the form of silica that is highly absorbable by the skin. Silica aids in the production of collagen, which over time the body produces less and less of which contributes to duller, less tight skin, so the fact that horsetail is rich in silica makes it a strong contender for intelligent holistic skincare formulation.
I think you can see why we are including these plants! We are thrilled to think about the growth of our farm and the wider offering that we can provide by increasing the amount of plants we grow. Personally I’m excited at the prospect of working with these biodynamically grown plants as part of our R&D process. Knowing where and how the raw materials are sourced, grown, and processed makes a big difference in being able to have the confidence in achieving real results.
Fisher, C. (2009) - Materia Medica of Western Herbs
Gladstar, R. (2012) - Medicinal Herbs
Wood, M. (1997) - The Book of Herbal Wisdom: Using Plants as Medicines
Ganora, L. (2009) - Herbal Constituents | Foundations of Phytochemistry