Country News - April 2010

country news elaine fischer

"A hand up to healing," by Elaine Fisher

 Necessity, they say is the mother of invention but in the case of Pauline and Rob Stuart of Arohena, it was one of the unpleasant side-effects of dairy farming.

"Rob suffered terribly with cracked hands, particularly during calving, so I decided to develop a balm which would sooth and repair his hands," said Pauline of Infused with Nature.

Pauline has always had a love of plants and first began growing herbs in England 33 years ago and more recently when the family moved to New Zealand.

To address Rob's painful problem she began by adapting a balm recipe using oils and butters for their moisturising qualities and herbs for healing.  Rob became the willing guinea pig and when Pauline found the right formula, the balm worked wonders.

Pauline now sells the balm for both damaged hands and cracked heels.

Growing herbs and making herbal skincare products began as a hobby but as Pauline's 50th birthday approached she decided it was time to quit her full-time job in Te Awamutu and concentrate on what she really loved.

It was something of a leap of faith, but Pauline already knew from the success of her products amongst family and friends, that she had something special to offer.

"My aim was to make natural skincare products suitable for sensitive skin and my research showed that no one else was growing and using predominantly Calendula in their products."

calendula rows

Today Pauline, with a little help, plants and harvests about 1600 plants each year on their dairy farm near Te Awamutu.  Long narrow beds of closely planted Calendula flower from January to March creating a bright blaze of gold.

Calendula is known to relieve skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, skin rashes, cold sores, sunburn, nappy rash and to help heal cuts and grazes, she said.

The flower heads must be freshly opened and then Pauline packs them into jars of oil to allow the essential oils to infuse.

This infused oil forms the basis of many of Pauline's products which include soaps, lip balms, hand and heel balm, creams and ointments.

Recognising that some people are reluctant to buy a product they don't know, Pauline produces "test pots" which serve as an affordable introduction to her range.

Initially, Pauline made most of her sales through markets but the time involved was taking her away from what she most enjoys - making her products.

"I still attend some markets but more of my products are now available in some health and gift shops." 

Pauline also sells from her website.

Starting a herbal business was far from her mind when she and Rob immigrated to New Zealand.

"We absolutely love living in New Zealand and have never regretted the move," said Pauline.

"I love what I am doing.  I love the diversity of my work.  I enjoy marketing, researching, making and creating new products.  I set out to build a business which would make a difference to people's lives - this I have done.  It is very satisfying when I receive positive feedback from customers saying that the products have relieved and soothed debilitating skin conditions."