By Jeff Hutchison
For the past few months, I've been hard at work developing and making soaps alongside my fellow gardener Lila Chu, I've been hard at work making soaps for the last number of months, and our first batch is just about ready to go out into the world. These four soaps were formulated around a common base of Olive Oil and Babassu Oil and each bar has a unique blend of botanicals. Noir Earth is a combination of Black Sage Hydrosol, Charcoal and Lavender — deeply cleansing and inspired by the cycles of fire and renewal intrinsic to the landscape of California. Green Leaf is a combination of Parsley, Rosemary and French Green Clay, my personal favorite with an invigorating and refreshing camphorous scent. The olive green color is soothing to the eye, and makes me think of my favorite old pair of army pants. Pink Fruit is a lively combination of Blood Orange, Red Carrot and Red Kaolin Clay. It has a sweet citrus fragrance that makes me crave Caracara oranges and those early days of Spring. The pinkish red hue has a slight marbling effect that is hypnotic and beautiful. Yellow Blossom is made of Beeswax, Hawaiian Turmeric and Lemon essential oil. This bar shines so golden and is like food for your skin. The scent reminds me of my grandmother's lemon cake — I could eat it.
While the botanicals are rightfully the stars of the show, what I am truly excited about are the oils that make up the soap's base. I have been making soap for close to ten years now and this formulation is the simple and balanced formula I have been dreaming of. Each oil in a soap adds unique properties — some are nourishing and gentle on the skin, others create big bubbles and thick lather, and still others are cleansing. Olive oil is one of the gentlest oils and pure olive oil soap is my absolute favorite. We are using Olive Oil from our own producer the Brosius Family Farm. This is a world class olive oil worthy of drizzling all over your dinner, but instead we’re offering it for your body.
To complement the olive oil I added Babassu. Babassu is an Amazonian palm (Attalea speciosa) nut that provides very similar properties to Coconut oil — big bubbles, a hard bar of soap, and a rich lather. I am beyond excited to use this oil as it is the antithesis of the unsustainable Palm or Coconut. Babassu is not planted in monocropped groves. Rather, it's an agroforestry crop, meaning the Babassu palm is part of a diverse forest ecosystem, grown on the edges of the Amazonian rainforest. The edge of any forest or woodland is at once the most vulnerable and also the most diverse area. In ecology, these edges are known as ecotones. In Southeast Asia, rainforests are being destroyed to plant Coconut and Palm plantations, decimating precious habitat and at a great loss to biodiversity. In the Amazon, rainforests are destroyed to create cattle ranches and other intensive agricultural endeavors. Responsibly sourced Babassu helps protect rainforests and the people who tend to these ecosystems. All of this is to say: we believe this soap represents the best possible formulation of pleasure for and from the garden.
The first soaps launch this week with a second batch to follow shortly thereafter. All of the soaps we're offering were handmade from scratch in the Goat Shed at Flamingo Estate. They are humble but luxurious bars that we couldn't be more excited to share with you.
In solidarity with tenders of the earth everywhere,
Jeff Hutchison, Director of Flamingo Estate Garden & Horticulture