Sea Wench Naturals Body Products - Wildcrafting and Gardening Off the Grid in BC
Image by Sea Wench Naturals
The Sea Wench Naturals line offers soaps, body washes, candles and more
Sea Wench Naturals provides sustainable, wildcrafted body products that will leave you looking, smelling and feeling great
Sometimes you pick up on a pattern, and that’s what happened during a recent trip to Vancouver Island.
Stopping in a few local shops, a number of different proprietors went out of their way to relay with pride that they carried the line of Sea Wench Naturals
body products from plants grown and wildcrafted locally in a sustainable manner.
Intrigued, I bought and tried a few soaps, some Sea Scrub and some bath salts, and they were all so memorable for their gorgeous scent and notable quality that I picked up even more to take home with me as gifts for friends and family.
While I don’t normally like “fragranced products” and cannot walk down the body-product aisle at the supermarket without gagging, these were so totally natural that it was as if I were simply breathing in the scent of what was growing in my garden.
A collection of plants and herbs that
will become Sea Wench Naturals
I was curious about who was behind these products made “on an island jewel in Clayoquot Sound” and wanted to learn more.
The People Behind Sea Wench Naturals
Sharon and Chris Taylor Whalen both live off the grid, “making their own electricity and music using solar panels eight months of the year.” Their only heat source is a high-efficient woodstove.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy some advantages of technology, including high-speed Internet, a laser printer and eco-efficient front-load washer. (For drying, they use a clothesline and sea breezes.)
“We care deeply for the earth and its wildlife,” says Sharon, who with Chris has been teaching and influencing organic gardening most of her life, sometimes in areas as remote as Bella Bella and Denny Island.
The topics closest to their hearts are food security; solar electricity; mushroom growing using log-spore inoculation; fruit trees; water-filtering systems; composting and worm farming; the vital role of bees and how to raise and care for them; natural pest deterrents; organic sprays; raised beds; and the design and building of a greenhouse, which they say has the ability to give all of us in the rainforest an edge on growing.
“We grow organically and use our medicinal healing plants – including comfrey, St. John’s wort, calendula, chamomile, Oregon grape root, oregano, thyme, rosemary, bay, shitake mushrooms, yarrow, lemon balm, mints, plantain, geranium leaf, borage, sweet grass, nettle, devil’s club and seaweeds – and many other plants both grown and wildcrafted gently and sustainably from many miles of wilderness in our formulation of products,” says Sharon.
“We usually put up approximately 150 gallons of oils just for our hand soaps for the season.” Their oils are solar infused and wood-fired in steam-heated copper-kettle double boilers. A few are shipped to a lab for extraction using high-pressure methods.
What they can’t grow themselves, they get from other organic growers, “trying to purchase what’s obtainable here in Canada. We use many of Canada’s essential oils and our signature scent is pure essential oil of cedar. Our glacial clay is also distilled and hand dug by First Nation and pioneer families from the Great Bear Rainforest.”
In addition what they need to make Sea Wench Naturals, the garden provides much of their food. “We just recently planted our garlic (800) in our sun-soaked seaweed garden patch. There’s nothing more fulfilling than garlic for the winter, and for friends out here on the wet coast!"
Sharon and Chris finished their fall planting with Swiss chard, kale, spinach and broad beans. Now they are ensuring they have an adequate supply of wood for the winter – another big job requiring salvaging, cutting, splitting and stacking.
Once their wood is piled sufficiently high, they look forward to spending winter fireside as they craft hand-dipped candles made from pure beeswax, shaping them lovingly in their own handmade moulds.
Summer or winter, life is full of sweet satisfactions living off the grid and from a garden as well as ever so gently from the forest and surrounding sea.