Tucked away in the beautiful Herefordshire countryside is a unique organic herb farm and the setting for the creation of the beautiful Herbfarmacy skincare range. When you speak to Paul Richards, botanist and creator of Herbfarmacy you realise that growing anything other than organically was simply never an option, such is his passion and conviction that organics are simply the only way for him that he has been growing herbs organically on the farm for over thirty years.
The farm itself is certified by Soil Association and has a yearly inspection, both in terms of the finished product and the production methods.
The love of herbs and their uses came long before the skincare range was developed but it is wonderful to see how well those two things work together. The herbs are really central to the performance and heart of the brand which is why it is such a joy to have been invited to see the herbs for myself. This is not my first visit to Herbfarmacy as I had the pleasure of visiting a few years back for an open day. This visit was very different, as I was invited to visit on a normal working day at the farm and was treated to a private tour of the fields by Paul himself.
Nearly everything is done onsite in the picturesque white cottage buildings, there is a small production facility, where, when I arrived, balms were being hand poured and there are boxes and boxes of packaging on every shelf. There were people bustling about and getting on with their day and you certainly get the feeling that this tranquil setting is a happy place to work.
There is a real buzz at Herbfarmacy that is hard to explain, the team is small but very dedicated to the brand and everyone seems to enjoy what they do. Paul speaks about the herbs with such knowledge, it’s almost as if everyone is an old friend, over the years the growing has been tweaked and changed to reflect what grows well in the Herefordshire soil and the farm was blooming. Given that the farm is organic you would think that weeds would be a problem but there is very little room for them to grow as the plants were so strong and healthy.
The herbs grown, all have their individual properties and uses and are harvested and dried before being added to an infusion. Herbfarmacy use high oleic organic sunflower oil for most of their infusions as it is an ideal oil for taking on the properties of the herbs.
Marshmallow is Herbfarmacy’s signature herb and grows tall with pretty white flowers. Everything is harvested, even the roots as it is these are that high in mucilages (a gel like substance), which gives the herb it’s softening properties. It can be found in most of the product range but a special mention has to go to the Mallow beauty balm, which is a beautiful multi-tasking balm that can be used as a cleanser, a mask, as an overnight treatment or simply to treat dry patches.
Calendula also known as marigold, is perhaps one of the best known herbs for use in skincare thanks to it’s sunny yellow colour and anti-sceptic qualities. The field was quite literally golden thanks to the expanse of calendula, I don’t think I have ever seen anything quite as impressive.
Mullein is very interesting looking plant with very soft looking leaves. These plants are still quite young, like most of the plants on the farm they are biennials meaning they take two years to reach maturity and be harvested. As they grow they get taller, almost the same size as the marshmallow and have beautiful yellow flowers which you can see below were harvested in the drying room.
Echinacea is best known for it’s use as an immune support herb in a tincture, but Paul was explaining that it has astringent properties for skin, which is why it is added to the Rose and Echinacea toner, a favourite of mine. There are several kinds of Echinacea, this one is larger and arguably more beautiful Echinacea Purpurea which Paul told me seems to grow the best in the farms soil.
Cornflower is one of the prettiest and most delicate herbs and is the star ingredient in the Refining Eye cream, don’t let the modest name fool you this eye is really very good indeed, especially for brightening under the eyes. Cornflower is a sustainable alternative to eyebright which is at risk of disappearing in the wild.
Lemonbalm is also a beautiful herb that is used in alongside Mullein and Tea tree in the Lip nurse, an amazing lip balm for anyone who suffers from cold sores, the lemon balm has gentle anti-bacterial properties and is a great herb to grow at home too.
Also on the farm you will also find Comfrey which is a very soothing herb great for calming the skin and chickweed which Paul tells me he buys off other local organic farms as well as it would otherwise to go waste, very sustainable and a great idea! I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the farm, chatting to Paul about the herbs and seeing what goes in to the products, it’s only when you see it in person you realise the love, dedication and attention to detail that goes in to something like a balm that can often be taken for granted.
Find out more at www.herbfarmacy.com.