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The Design files article

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So blessed to be so well supported, thank you design files xx

Self-Sufficient Living + Skincare At Saarinen Organics

REGIONAL

While our regional column has, to date, covered the inspiring tales behind small-scale food, flower and wool producers, this latest trip features something fresh: skincare!

We journey to Wyndham, New South Wales, to meet the family behind Saarinen Organics, the tree changers whose fortuitous shift from food production to skincare finally made their farm a viable business.

Monday 14th January 2019

‘I decided to make up a few different herbal creams and take them to my local market. We completely sold out that first day!’ – Kay Saarinen.

On the outskirts of the small township of Wyndham, on the far south coast of New South Wales, Kay Saarinen, 47, is harvesting handfuls of fresh herbs from her garden, a wide-brimmed hat protecting her from the afternoon sun. 

The property that Kay shares with her husband Gregg, 54, and young daughter Gemma is an extraordinary example of self-sufficient living in our modern world.  

While the ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘sustainability’ movement in Australia has gone from niche interest to marketplace mainstream in a remarkably short time, for most of us, working on reducing our environmental footprint is a relatively new concept. 

Kay and Gregg, on the other hand, have been living this way long before the terms became popular hashtags. ‘We were into sustainable living back when it was considered weird, and only something that dirty hippies did!’ laughs Kay. 

‘In my grandmother’s day, everyone used to live in a self-sufficient manner. It was common, even in suburbia, to have a veggie garden. But after the industrial revolution and supermarkets became the norm, suddenly it was very uncool to grow your own food.’ 

 That was still the case 16 years ago when the couple made their tree change and abandoned their ‘very not environmentally friendly’ careers to pursue a life of self-sufficiency. ‘We were both working in two incredibly wasteful industries at the time, Gregg as a carpenter, and myself as a Chef. We were both doing great, but we were spending our days working in complete opposition to our values,’ says Kay. 

 They decided to ‘give the dream a go’, and moved from their home in Queensland to the six-acre property in Wyndham. ‘When we first moved here, all we had was an old caravan, a burnt out shed and a heck of a lot of blackberry bushes.’ The couple lived in the caravan for almost five years while they built their straw bale home.  

‘At the time we wanted to do absolutely everything ourselves. We actually dug up all the clay, made the mud, brought all the water and sand up from the creek. We had no power tools because we had no electricity, so it was all done by hand.’ Kay describes their early years on the property as ‘extreme’ and in the end, they burnt out quickly. 

‘We were keeping chickens, milking goats, making our own cheese, growing our own food. We had no running water or electricity. For a few years, we sold our fruit and vegetables locally, but it was so hard to make a decent income from that, and we had loan repayments to make!’ explains Kay. ‘I think we went too alternative too quickly and perhaps should have substituted our income rather than giving everything up all at once.’ 

The birth of the couple’s daughter forced them to rethink their approach. ‘Once Gemma came along we knew we had to work something out – either we had to sell the property or find another way to make an income. It was a really difficult time for us.’  

‘Then when Gemma was six-months-old she got eczema. I’d been studying naturopathy at the time and reading about how to use herbs to treat different skin ailments. So I made an ointment for her and it worked beautifully.’ 

‘I decided to make up a few different herbal creams using what I’d learnt in my studies and take them to my local market. We completely sold out that first day, and after that things just started to fall into place. I continued my studies and it just grew from there.’  

The Saarinen Organics eco skincare range now includes 42 products. The couple grows all the herbs on farm and manufacture all the creams, ointments, herbal infusions and tinctures on site. ‘What we can’t grow here we purchase as locally as possible, and always use certified organic to ensure the quality of our products.’ 

Finally finding their calling meant the couple was able to put money back into the farm. The property now boasts two huge orchards, a large solar system, a solar bore for ample water, composting toilets and is 100% off the grid, self-sufficient in water, electricity, heating, and food. 

They also run farm tours and host local school groups learning about permaculture.  ‘It’s fantastic that being self-sufficient isn’t a dirty word anymore. We can go to the markets and put out our sign that says “Permaculture Farm” and everyone thinks it’s wonderful. We’ve been waiting a long time for that!’ beams Kay. ‘It’s such a beautiful thing that an eco-sustainable business has been able to help fund the kind of sustainable lifestyle we’d always dreamed of having.’

Will Work For Food is a creative partnership between writer Karen Locke photographer Honey Atkinson, who are working to elevate the importance of sustainable, ethically produced food. Find out more on their blog Willworkforfood.com.au.

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South Coast style

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So wonderful to be recognised in such a beautiful magazine, thank you south coast Style xx

 

Kay and Greg Saarinen are as free-range as you can get. They’re living completely off the grid, just south of Wyndham, in a handsome solar-passive straw bale house that they built themselves. “This is an eco-friendly, self-sufficient, permaculture farm,” Kay explains with a grin, “and everything is done with a purpose!” Their home features stunning timber flooring constructed from the imperfect rejects sold by the mill as “firewood”. It also boasts a larder-style cool room and a user-friendly, stink-free composting toilet. “Our daughter Gemma was scared of toilet water for a while,” Greg recalls with a laugh. “She didn’t know what it was!”

Gemma is 11 and already a promising artist. She holds a tiny chick and whispers “ssshhh” as it peeps. Kay and Greg were four years into their self-sufficient adventure when Gemma arrived. They had left their secure jobs as chef and carpenter to pursue their dream of living ethically and abiding by the ideals of permaculture.

At six months, baby Gemma developed the common inflammatory skin condition: eczema. “We left the doctors holding a script for cortisone,” Kay recalls. “At the time, I was studying topical naturopathy and I turned to Greg and said ‘I’ve got this’.” Kay grins and laughs. “I said, ‘let’s use Gemma as a guinea pig’.” The cream Kay developed for Gemma’s skin was so successful that she began sharing it with friends who encouraged her to take it to the local markets. “My first market was so well received,” Kay remembers, “and Saarinen Organics grew from there.”

Now, Kay and Greg manufacture over 30 skin-care products, all of them ethically and sustainably produced completely by hand, on their beautiful farm. Kay is adamant that her business will remain aligned with the ideals of permaculture. “We want to be an asset to society,” she explains. “We use local products, local business, local labour. We barter where we can. Our business has grown and we are ready to expand, but for us, that doesn’t mean outsourcing manufacture to China. We would like to get a part-time farmhand and improve the business side of Saarinen Organics. That’s growth for us.”

The Saarinen Organics “lab” stands as a delightful timber cottage alongside the straw-bale house. Outside, garden beds are thriving with herbs. “Calendula, echinacea, stinging nettle, blue mellow, chamomile,” Kay names them with fluency and points with capable hands that surely have green thumbs.

Inside, large glass jars line the shelves like an apothecary’s warehouse. They’re filled with fermenting seaweed, comfrey, nettle and lavender. The room smells of things both familiar and unknown. Kay flicks through a well-handled “recipe book” complete with scribbled notations and reminders for next time. “Every recipe is different. Each cream base is unique.”

“She’s a very clever lady,” Greg says, watching as Kay moves around the lab. He has journeyed with her as Saarinen Organics took flight. “My mates say: ‘huh? You’re selling skincare to chicks?’” Greg laughs. “But I do. I sell alongside Kay at all the markets, talking to people about pimples and their beauty regime. I have had to think about how I can best input into this business.” Kay chimes in: “This wouldn’t exist without Greg. He does so much.”

Outside, we stand in the flourishing veggie gardens. A fattened lamb bleats a greeting and an eagle soars overhead. “You don’t have to do all this,” Kay says, gesturing to the farmlands. “But you can still support this in the products you buy. Permaculture is about giving back and increasing awareness and growing communities,” Kay says. “And I think that’s a beautiful thing.”

https://www.southcoaststyle.com.au/saarinen-organics-all-natural-skin-care/
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https://www.southcoaststyle.com.au/saarinen-organics-all-natural-skin-care/
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IN THE MEDIA

Wow we have had pearler of a year, so much media we can hardly keep up, so in a nut shell

An article in

Pip magazine – fantastic Permaculture mag https://www.pipmagazine.com.au/
South coast mag  with a fantastic 6 page spread – https://www.southcoaststyle.com.au/?s=saarinen+organics
The nude horse – https://thenudehorse.com.au/
Bega newspaper
Merimbula newspaper
Eden newspaper
ABC radio
2ec Radio
Pambula comunity radio
Win TV
to come Iacelerate TV
Nine news

Wow what a year, so grateful xx

 

 

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A Win For Us

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Wow, what an amazing 4 months we have had.

Gregg and I were lucky enough to be accepted into the iAccelerate program that is run by the University of Wollongong through the Bega Valley Innovation Hub.

Only 7 businesses were accepted into the program so we were over the moon. It was a very intensive business course, we were overwhelmed most of the time though with support we got a lot out of it.

At the end of the course we all had to pitch our business plan to a panel of university judges and the Mayor of Bega.

It was a great honour to have been named the winners of an innovative business for the Bega Valley. WOOHOO! We also took out second place in people’s choice.

We are so humbled and now opportunities are flying in the door as we start to develop our business plan that involves many new and exciting things.

Stay tuned as we start to roll them out and we will let you all know.

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Great News

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Wonderful news.

We have been accepted for a government grant to do a course through the University of Wollongong—iAccelerate.

A really good course to boost the exposure of small rural businesses.

Out of over 20 businesses that applied only 7 were accepted. WIN TV news was there to capture this fantastic opportunity.

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The Design Files Article — Seed To Skin Eco Skincare by Saarinen Organics

eco-seed-to-skin-care

Self-Sufficient Living + Skincare At Saarinen Organics

Regional

While our regional column has to date covered the inspiring tales behind small-scale food, flower, and wool producers, this latest trip features something fresh—skincare!

We journey to Wyndham, New South Wales, to meet the family behind Saarinen Organics, the tree changers whose fortuitous shift from food production to skincare finally made their farm a viable business.

14th January 2019

In the outskirts of the small township of Wyndham, on the far south coast of New South Wales, Kay Saarinen (47) is harvesting handfuls of fresh herbs from her garden, a wide-brimmed hat protecting her from the afternoon sun. 

The property that Kay shares with her husband Gregg (54) and young daughter Gemma is an extraordinary example of self-sufficient living in our modern world.  

While the ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘sustainability’ movement in Australia has gone from niche interest to marketplace mainstream in a remarkably short time, for most of us, working on reducing our environmental footprint is a relatively new concept. 

Kay and Gregg, on the other hand, have been living this way long before the terms became popular hashtags. ‘We were into sustainable living back when it was considered weird, and only something that dirty hippies did!’ laughs Kay. 

“In my grandmother’s day, everyone used to live in a self-sufficient manner. It was common, even in suburbia, to have a veggie garden. But after the industrial revolution and supermarkets became the norm, suddenly it was very uncool to grow your own food.”

That was still the case 16 years ago when the couple made their tree change and abandoned their ‘very not environmentally friendly’ careers to pursue a life of self-sufficiency. “We were both working in two incredibly wasteful industries at the time, Gregg as a carpenter, and myself as a chef. We were both doing great, but we were spending our days working in complete opposition to our values,” says Kay. 

They decided to ‘give the dream a go’ and moved from their home in Queensland to the six-acre property in Wyndham.When we first moved here, all we had was an old caravan, a burnt-out shed, and a heck of a lot of blackberry bushes.” The couple lived in the caravan for almost five years while they built their straw bale home.  

“At the time we wanted to do absolutely everything ourselves. We actually dug up all the clay, made the mud, brought all the water and sand up from the creek. We had no power tools because we had no electricity, so it was all done by hand.” Kay describes their early years on the property as ‘extreme’ and in the end, they burnt out quickly. 

“We were keeping chickens, milking goats, making our own cheese, growing our own food. We had no running water or electricity. For a few years, we sold our fruit and vegetables locally, but it was so hard to make a decent income from that, and we had loan repayments to make!” explains Kay.I think we went too alternative too quickly and perhaps should have substituted our income rather than giving everything up all at once.”

The birth of the couple’s daughter forced them to rethink their approach.Once Gemma came along we knew we had to work something out—either we had to sell the property or find another way to make an income. It was a really difficult time for us.”

“Then when Gemma was six-months-old she got eczema. I’d been studying naturopathy at the time and reading about how to use herbs to treat different skin ailments. So I made an ointment for her and it worked beautifully.”

“I decided to make up a few different herbal creams using what I’d learned in my studies and take them to my local market. We completely sold out that first day, and after that things just started to fall into place. I continued my studies and it just grew from there.”

The Saarinen Organics eco skincare range now includes 42 products. The couple grows all the herbs on-farm and manufactures all the creams, ointments, herbal infusions, and tinctures on site. “What we can’t grow here we purchase as locally as possible, and always use certified organic to ensure the quality of our products.” 

Finally finding their calling meant the couple was able to put money back into the farm. The property now boasts two huge orchards, a large solar system, a solar bore for ample water, composting toilets, and is 100% off the grid, self-sufficient in water, electricity, heating, and food. 

They also run farm tours and host local school groups learning about permaculture.It’s fantastic that being self-sufficient isn’t a dirty word anymore. We can go to the markets and put out our sign that says “Permaculture Farm” and everyone thinks it’s wonderful. We’ve been waiting a long time for that!” beams Kay. “It’s such a beautiful thing that an eco-sustainable business has been able to help fund the kind of sustainable lifestyle we’d always dreamed of having.”

Will Work For Food is a creative partnership between writer Karen Locke photographer Honey Atkinson, who are working to elevate the importance of sustainable, ethically produced food. Find out more on their blog Willworkforfood.com.au.

Self-Sufficient Living + Skincare At Saarinen Organics

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Nicolina Bridal Trunk Show

We are so excited to be teaming up with the lovely Saarinen Organics for our Nicolina Bridal Trunk Show this Saturday!

Every bride who has an appointment will be receiving a gorgeous gift pack worth $97, just for booking!!

Saarinen Organics has been creating an All-Natural Skincare range using herbs grown on their permaculture farm at Wyndham, Sapphire Coast, since 2008.

Every one of their beautiful products is made by hand using traditional methods, helping your skin to glow naturally.

Stunning wedding gowns + luxurious skincare = the perfect way to spend a Saturday. We can’t wait!

— at Saarinen Organics..

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ABC South East Story Box Landed At Our Place

eco-seed-to-skin-care-Kay-Saarinen-story-box-interview

ox

What a great program with many small rural stories out there, the story box got handed around the community for our chance to have a little chat.
When it was our turn it was 5:45 in the morning and I was thrown a bit on this one, my goodness, Trump was elected the night before and I wasn’t ready for that question!!!! lol
Thank you ABC for this.
xx KAY

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ABC Rural Came Out To Our Saarinen Organics Farm For A Radio Interview

eco-seed-to-skin-care-Kay Saarinen ABC Rural inteview

How wonderful that ABC Rural came all the way out to our permaculture farm in Wyndham to do a radio interview, in the foothills of the Bega Valley, NSW. The interviewer was so wonderful and had me at ease, chatting away. It was easier than I thought when talking from a place of truth and passion.

xx Kay

  1. eco-seed-to-skin-care-Saarinen Organics on ABC Radio