BY JANINE TAIT
As a bio-chemist and skincare practitioner, Jan Sarre-Smith (Janesce Founder) has an enquiring mind and loving, intuitive heart. This beautiful combination of science and spirituality is one of the things that makes Janesce Skincare unique in the beauty industry.
This weaving of scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom is clearly displayed in the way that Jan tends the garden at Claret Ash Farm, where all the herbs and flowers that go into Janesce Skincare products are grown.
Claret Ash Farm Is Certified Organic
Janesce skincare products are pure and potent. One of the key reasons for this 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.
Jan treats the garden at Claret Ash Farm as a miniature ecosystem and follows biodynamic principles of gardening.
Biodynamics, originally developed by Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner, is a sustainable method of farming based on natural processes. It centres around the enhancement of soil and plant health and recognises that the rhythms of the cosmos and moon influence weather, soil, plant and animal life.
Unlike organics, the goal of biodynamics is not just to eliminate the use of chemical sprays and artificial fertilisers, but to promote the health of the soil and grow the strongest, most potent plants.
Companion planting is one of the protective practices used by Jan and her team. Grouping plants together enables them to help each other grow better and can deter pests and insects from feasting on the more delicate plants. Companion planting also attracts beneficial insects, nourishes the soil, helps control diseases and generally improves growing conditions in the garden.
At Claret Ash Farm the nasturtiums attract the aphids and caterpillars away from more fragile crops while marigold emits a scent that repels insects. Giant Russian garlic is planted under the rose bushes repelling the aphids and enhancing the fragrance of the rose blooms.
Many of the perennial plants growing at Claret Ash Farm have been there for decades. The rose bushes were planted in 1982, when Jan first purchased the property. Nearly 40 years later their roots have penetrated deep into the ground, enabling them to tap into nutrients other plants cannot reach and making the essences they contain very intricate and complex.
These wise, old plants are beautifully resilient. Having adapted to the climatic conditions they are able to weather sudden changes far more effectively than young plants would.
Each year the annual plants at Claret Ash Farm, such as chamomile and calendula, need to be re-sown. Jan likes to let a portion of the strongest plants go to seed so she can collect these seeds to plant for the next growing season. This practice means that each year, the plants go from strength to strength.
Calendula seed selection is a great example of this practice. The original variety of calendula have a brown centre. However, over the years Jan has collected seeds from plants that have grown a bright orange centre, as these are much higher in beta-carotene, an important anti-oxidant for skin. Consequently, the calendula crop at Claret Ash Farm is now nearly all of the potent orange-centred variety.
A Loving Connection with Plants
It was Cleve Backster that first discovered plants surge with energy when they are threatened. Backster was America’s foremost lie-detector examiner and he used his galvinator to show that plants react with surges of energy when someone intends to hurt them. In another series of observations he noted that a special bond is created between plants and those who tend them, with plants showing an outpouring of energy when they are loved and cared for.
Jan believes the plants at Claret Ash Farm are her friends and she does all she can to encourage them to flourish. Each day, Jan has a ritual of walking around the garden to check on the wellbeing of the plants. She chats to them as she goes, stopping to enjoy the fragrance of a bloom or to pluck a weed from the ground. At harvesting time, Jan always makes sure she thanks the flowers for their gifts before she picks them.
Jan believes that this loving way of working with plants maximises the healing potential of the botanical extracts, providing powerful plant therapy for the skin.