Kay Saarinan grows medicinal herbs, creating a range of organic skincare products in a purpose-built lab on her six-acre property on the NSW far South Coast. She started her business Saarinan Organics ten years ago, selling five products at the local markets. Kay now has 37 different products in her range, including facial cleansers, calendula ointment and moisturising creams.
Kay grows what medicinal herbs she can, right outside the door to her lab. These include calendula, echinacea, comfrey, aloe vera, nettle, borage, chickweed (wild harvest), rosemary and elderberry, to name just a few. These are then harvested at the optimal time, dried and made into the medicinal skin care range.
‘What we can’t grow on the farm, we source as locally as possible,’ says Kay. ‘As farmers we know how important it is to be supported locally. We source local low-heated beeswax and honey, lavender, echinacea, olive oil and chilli. What we can’t, we’ll buy Australian certified organic.’
Kay has previously worked as a chef, run a market garden on her property and studied permaculture, horticulture and naturopathy, so she has a broad range of knowledge that informs her work. ‘It’s perfect because I can mix the scientific side of me with the earthy hands on side,’ she explains.
Kay and her husband Gregg bought their property 15 years ago when it was just blackberries and tussocks, fallen trees and rocks. With a lot of hard work and passion, they have slowly transformed it into what it is today: a thriving and very productive permaculture property. Besides the medicinal herb garden, they also have a well established orchard, extensive vegie garden and a motley crew of farm animals, all organised using permaculture design and systems thinking.
Kay shares some of her most useful and easy to make recipes for us to create at home. Remember to always test patch before use if you are unsure of any herb allergies.
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY WATER TONIC
You will need:
- 6 fresh stinging nettle stems with leaves
- 1 litre of boiled rainwater
- Large pot
- Clean bottle with a lid
Pick fresh stinging nettle
Have your pot of rainwater boiling and add the stinging nettle, poking them down
Turn the heat off and put the lid on to steep for 20 minutes
Strain and pour into the bottle
Run a bath and pour half the infusion in to help relieve sore muscles.
Relax and enjoy.
COMFREY LEAF HERBAL COMPRESS
You will need:
- 6 fresh comfrey leaves
- Psyllium husk (enough to make a paste)
- Stick blender/blender
- Clean jar with a lid
- Cotton pad
- Medical tape
Pick fresh comfrey leaves
Blend until they have a soup-like consistency
Add psyllium until it becomes a workable paste
We want to keep the liquid, so don’t strain
Pop the mix into a clean jar with the lid on
When needed, put half a cup onto a cotton pad and wrap around a bruised area, securing it with medical tape.
ALOE VERA GEL
You will need:
• Two leaves of aloe vera
• 1 Tbsp honey
• A peeler
• Stick blender/blender
• Clean jar
Cut a couple of leaves of aloe vera (the plumper the better)
Using a peeler, peel away the spikes
Lay the leaf flat and run your knife along the middle to separate the top and bottom leaves
Now using a spoon, simply scrape out all that yummy gel
Scrape into a small pot and slightly warm it with a tablespoon of honey
Blitz with a blender
Strain through a sieve
Pop it into a clean jar
At this stage I like to put a round makeup remover pad onto the gel before I put the lid on, so that as soon as you need it, you can just pull out the soaked pad and apply.
Depending on how sterile your work area and jar is, the gel will last a month in the fridge. This is great to have in the fridge, ready to go. Aloe vera is very soothing for both sunburn and heat burns.
CHAMOMILE INFUSION FOR PUFFY EYES
You will need:
• A handful of chamomile flowers (or organic tea bags)
• 500 ml rainwater
• Clean jar with a lid
• Cotton eye mask
Pick a good handful of chamomile flowers, with a selection of old and new
Bring 500 ml of filtered rainwater to the boil
Add the flowers and let sit for 20 minutes to infuse
Pop the infusion into a clean jar with the lid on
Pop a thin cotton eye mask into the infusion and let soak
Put the eye mask on your eyes, lying flat for about 20 minutes, letting the chamomile do the work
You can add a wheat bag onto your eye mask if preferred for extra weight.
You can also experiment with other herbs, such as calendula, for puffy eyes.