It is our pleasure to put another one of our manufacturers from the beautiful state of Maine into our Spotlight, Janet Edwards, otherwise known as Mountain Mama. Back in 1970 you made a move that many can only dream of. You bought a farm out in the country and left the city life behind. Please tell us why you decided to do that and what you went through to get where you are now. (We'd also love to hear about your farm!)
In 1970 on a dark night, I was chased down the street and narrowly escaped harm. That was a turning point for me. I was tired of the corporate life and the I -95 corridor in southern Connecticut. I decided to drop out of the rat race and became part of the "back to the land movement" in Maine that was quite strong in the early 70's. I moved to a 40 acre farm in the mountains of Maine and never looked back.
Of 5 children in my family, 4 now live in Maine and 2 years ago, my Mom joined us. It's the quality of life that attracts folks, clean air, low crime. But, the farm was very close to a main road heavily traveled by logging trucks and tourists, so in a few years I moved further into the woods. I walked 1/4 mile from the end of a dirt road, hauled water, no electricity. I loved it. I began walking the woods. I bought a wildflower identification book. One entry mentioned that a plant had medicinal qualities, but didn't say what. That started my interest in what plants can offer.
What is your life like now, and how have you been changed by 'country living'?
Once I started raising a family, I moved closer into town for community for my children and school bus access. I am a different person than the young woman who left the city. I have been blessed and grounded by touching the earth. After many years of research, reading and trial and error, my family convinced me to market some of the products they used and loved. Maine has a wonderful herbal community and we enjoy sharing what we've learned. We celebrate Herb Fest on every 1st Saturday in June. It's an educational fair with great vendors selling plants and herb-related products. This year will be our 10th Herb Fest!
When did your interest begin for all-natural beauty products?
I remember my grandmother giving me peppermint to chew on while I watched her in her garden. I guess that's my earliest recollection of the plant world. When my children were suffering from diaper rash, skinned knees and bug bites, I decided to come up with a recipe to soothe their skin.
Please tell us about the all-natural beauty products that you make and sell.
My first product became known as "Soft as a Baby's Behind". People laugh and remember the name. We've used this product for 4 generations on everything skin related. I took a course at the local college focusing on massage and aromatherapy. It opened lots of doors for me. I started adding herbs and flowers to my bath and became a believer in the healing benefits of hydrotherapy. I then developed herbal facial products including floral water misters and the most wonderful moisturizer which I named after my grandmother. "Mim's Amazing Magic" It has 7 essential oils to combat aging and dry skin. As I am growing older and experiencing more aches and pains, I've developed two St. John's wort recipes. It was the notation about this plant's medicinal properties that started my interest in herbs so many years ago.
You organically grow most of the ingredients that you use in your products. It's such a wonderful way to stay in touch with the earth. Please share your feelings about the process of bringing beauty products to their existence from start to finish.
There is nothing more uplifting than the sight and smell of calendula flowers in my gardens. It is one of the best plants for dry skin. Many clients find it helps with eczema as well as healing split fingertips, gardening hands, chapped lips, heels and elbows. Our skin is our largest organ and I tell people to read the labels on anything they put on their skin with the same standards they apply to foods they eat. My bees work hard at making wax and honey for me. Last summer was extremely humid and gray. Lots of beekeepers in my area had mold problems and low yield. My hive out-produced everyone because of the anti-fungal properties of calendula which they feed upon. The honey is delicious.
You are quite involved with your community, speaking at various events, and selling your products at shows. What lessons do you bring to those that you speak to?
What do you find is the reaction of those that hear you speak?
Have you noticed an increased interest in those that you are speaking and selling to over the years?
I love to offer an herbal facial demonstration. I've done this at many stores where my products are sold and at Herb Fest and our annual Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Fair. Folks love the aromatherapy relaxation and the glow their skin develops. People are becoming more aware about the all natural approach. Last year I decided to branch out and gave a talk about how to make an herbal medicine chest. This was very well received. I do over 20 shows each year in New England and enjoy talking with people about herbs.
What special plans do you have for the holidays? What creative ideas would you give to our visitors for bringing a bit more 'country living' into their own lives during this season?
December 9th I will offer free herbal facials at The Enchanted Circle in Skowhegan Maine. It's a great holiday stress buster to enjoy aromatherapy relaxation while deep cleaning your pores. The steam contains roses, lavender, sage, calendula, peppermint and chamomile. Then an oatmeal based scrub is used. Hydration with "Mama's Mister" and moisturizing with "Mim's Amazing Magic". I love watching the transformation that occurs to the spirit and skin of women who participate.
December 21st is the shortest day of the year and I celebrate the return of the light by lighting every candle I can find. Usually 2 dozen votives and a dozen candlesticks. We've lost over 5 hours of sunlight since June 21st. To combat S.A.D. (Seasonal affected disorder) I've been taking St. John's wort tincture since September and will hook up the full spectrum lights soon. They help a lot.
I enjoy decorating for Christmas. It's such a nostalgic time of year for me. I have many ornaments that were once my grandmother's, things like bubble lights and a pink silver ball about 5 inches in diameter. Papa gave me a beautiful angel for the treetop with a painted wooden face. It's probably from the 50's. She's truly beautiful. We walk out the back door and go 'til we find the right tree. I have wonderful memories of doing this when the kids were young ( when I was young, too). We string lights on the lilac tree out our front window and it lights up the yard which is wonderful during an evening snowstorm. I also string silver beads in it for light reflection.
I make a fresh cut balsam wreath, fill hanging planters and window boxes with greens too. Closer to the holidays, I'll get together with my Mom and 2 sisters to make the most divine chocolates you can imagine. We burn orange peels on the top of the woodstove and enjoy our 20 year old, three foot wide Christmas cactus which has been in bloom for over 2 weeks already.
|Janet at one of her shows in Maine|