BY JANINE TAIT
There is a remarkable, organic richness to the soil at Claret Ash Farm. This heritage is one of the most powerful treasures at the heart of Janesce Skincare.
Jan Sarre-Smith, founder of Janesce, works in harmony with nature and believes that soil is a living organism. Nearly four decades of time, energy and investment has gone into creating the nutrient-rich soil that feeds and supports healthy plants. These in turn, are harvested by Jan and her team to create Janesce Skincare products, which deliver powerful plant therapy to our skin. ‘From the soil to the skin’, is not just a Janesce catch-phrase, it’s a living reality.
CLARET ASH FARM | A SPECIAL PLACE
Situated in the Adelaide Hills of Australia, Claret Ash Farm – the home of Janesce Skincare – is surrounded by gum trees and rolling hills. There is a rugged beauty to this land that is resilient and adaptive in the face of the extremes of the Australian climate. Rows of brightly-hued calendula, lavender, roses and herbs dance on the landscape. Their health and beauty is a reflection of the abundant feast of nutrients available to them in the soil, and of the powerful energy that is believed to run through this special piece of land.
I’ll let Jan herself tell you about that.
Claret Ash Farm Is Certified Organic
One of the factors that makes the soil so rich is that Claret Ash Farm is a fully-certified organic garden. No pesticides or herbicides of any kind are used. When you are working organically, having strong, nutrient-rich soil is vital. The plants have to be healthy and have good natural resistance to pests and disease when artificial sprays are out of the question.
Jan doesn’t just work the land, she loves it. She works in harmony with nature’s wisdom, following bio-dynamic principles that harness the energy of the earth and living plants. Soil nourishment and enrichment are high on the agenda.
So, what are some of Jan’s soil secrets?
Jan’s Secret Compost Recipe
One of reasons the soil at Claret Ash Farm is so nutrient rich is because of Jan’s special compost recipe. It’s a very powerful brew, containing between 20-22 different components for maximum soil health. Can you imagine the knowledge and skill that goes into creating this complex blend?
Jan considers her compost recipe to be one of her trade secrets and you can’t tease it out of her. Trust me, I’ve tried! But while she keeps the compost recipe under lock and key, she does let me in on some of the key ingredients.
One of those special ingredients is yarrow. This plant is known in Janesce as ‘Nature’s Compost Accelerator’. It speeds up the rate that compost breaks down, accelerating its transformation into rich, dark, crumbly goodness.
For this reason, yarrow is always sown behind the compost piles. This way it can be easily harvested and thrown on to the heap. Given time and regular turning, the compost matures and is then carefully mixed through the soil. When you remember that there have been decades upon decades of feeding the soil with this special compost, you start to get an idea of how much accumulated richness there is in the earth.
Pea Straw and Microbe Ecologies
Pea straw is another key component for healthy soil. In spring it is placed over the garden beds to preserve moisture during the hot, dry months. Jan pointed out that pea straw also supplies the soil with essential fibre to feed the microbes in the soil.
I was fascinated to discover that plants cultivate their own microbe community around the roots by forming a symbiotic relationship with them. The roots provide the microbes with food, and in return, the microbes break down minerals and nutrients in the soil into more accessible forms making it easier for the plants to absorb.
These microbes also support the plant’s immune system, warning it of any approaching pathogens. By ensuring the soil has a good supply of fibre from the pea straw, Jan helps cultivate these soil microbes and in turn this promotes plant health.
Natural Fertiliser Blend
As you might expect by now, Jan has also formulated her own blend of natural fertiliser. It is made up of a mixture of liquid seaweed, organic manure and special biodynamic preparations. This potent brew is blended and stored in big blue drums. Whenever the plants need a boost, Jan and her team can easily spray this preparation around the garden.
Soil Heritage | The Essence of Slow Beauty
After 40 years, there is an accumulated richness, health and biodiversity in the soil at Claret Ash Farm that is invaluable. You can’t put a price on it and other botanical skincare ranges simply cannot compete with this unique history. The soil heritage at Claret Ash Farm is the very essence of Slow Beauty that is at the heart of the Janesce Skincare philosophy. Whether we are dealing with soil, or skin, true transformation takes time.