In a farm kitchen on a little Urban Farm in Kitchener, Ontario, Karin prepares all of the wonderful salves, oils, soaps, shampoo bars, teas and herbal mixes that she sells at Homestead Herbals. Specializing in products for mama & baby, children and eco-conscious famlies, her products include a wonderful Mama Belly Rub (a jar of which I am enjoying at the moment), Organic Calendula Salve for baby bottoms, myriad soaps (the patchouli, cedar and sage bar is definitely one the most scrumptuous smelling soaps I have come across), lip balm, Gardener’s Hand Salve, and a men’s shaving bar, just to name a few.
I asked Karin a few questions…
Little Wool Maus: How did Homestead Herbals get started?
Karin: My passion for herbal healing began more than 10 years ago when I had the opportunity to apprentice with a wonderful mentor on an organic herb farm where the focus was on growing and wild-harvesting medicinal plants. This led to formal study of herbalism as a way to further my knowledge. Homestead Herbals grew out of the practice of making simple, natural herbal products to heal my family. I began to focus on mama & baby items in preparation for my own pregnancy 4 years ago, to create healing products that were useful during pregnancy and post-partum. I have since added a variety of soaps, again using natural biodegradable ingredients and herbs from my gardens. The recipes use traditional techniques where everything is made by hand, in small batches, in the kitchen at my urban homestead – thus the name “homestead herbals”.
Little Wool Maus: How do you go about creating new recipes for such lovely products?
Karin: For the creation of my mama & baby products I often consult with my sister, who is a practicing midwife, to find out what her clients are asking for. As for the soapmaking, this is a somewhat addictive science/art, and I am constantly drawn to trying new techniques, essential oils, botanicals and clays to see what end results will be – there is so much room for creativity and play when it comes to soapmaking.
Little Wool Maus: Is there a new product that you are now working on?
Karin: I have a long list of new products I would like to make, though in reality I am trying to limit the variety of products I make so that I can really focus on doing things well. A home-based business like this is always a balancing act when you are trying to raise a young family and run a busy urban farm at the same time. I take more time during the winter months to experiment with new ideas – for example perfecting my shampoo soap bars (which I love!), and working on a soap that works as a laundry “stain stick”.
Little Wool Maus: On a different note, November is often such a bleak month. What brightens it up for you?
Karin: I enjoy the month of November where the weather turns colder, we bundle up in warm layers, and we begin to slow down from the hectic pace of the harvest season. During these days I find great joy in making something creative from scratch each day, usually with my 3 year old helping and learning by my side! Baking bread, cooking a hearty soup using our garden bounty, preserving the last jam, crafting with my daughter using objects found on a walk, sewing a skirt, working on a forgotten knitting project, telling a new story as we sit by the woodstove…
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