CH: Healing Gardens is a concept I came up with growing herbs to go into my products. The customer knows exactly where their products are coming from. Like lemnongrass – good for energy and you can cook with it. It’s really uplifting. Lavender is good for calming, it’s also anti-inflammatory.
I am not a doctor, but they are known to be very healing. Eating them or using them on your skin.
DCHP: Some essential oil companies go to great lengths to harvest plants from the area where they were first cultivated. The theory is that it is different maybe more potent but there might actually be a local effect with herbs.
CH: I believe that there is. The lavender I have in my garden I feel will be more conducive [to people here]. The lavender that grows here – the hitcoat – is wonderful. If my herbs are living in the same environment [that I am in], I would assume they would be conducive to my skin.
DCHP: That would make sense. I see the same sort of argument in other areas. For example with bees and honey – that locally produced honey has elements in it that are different than what you would find in honey from California or South America.
CH: The honey that is derived here in southwest PA is very good, very tasty. If I know my apiary person, I’d feel more comfortable that I’m getting a high quality honey ‘cause I know that farmer.
Herbs that are grown where you regionally live, you are less likely to be allergic to them ‘cause you are in the same exact environment. They’re growing in the same temperatures and climates.
DCHP: So what do you do in the winter months?
CH: In the winter months I focus on making herbal teas. One of my most favorite blends is an anise-hyssop, which has kind of a licorice taste, and I blend that with lemonbalm, which is also called melissa.
It’s probably one of [the] cure-all herbs. [It] is good for sinuses, [it’s an] anti-inflammatory, [it’s] good for your skin, you can drink it, it alleviates a lot of problems like dandruff and acne. Then I may add others like St. John’s Wort.
DCHP: Interesting! You grow all those herbs yourself?
CH: On the perennials, I probably have 15. Re-seeders just keep coming back.
Queen Anne’s Lace, it’s an herb that grows along the sideways. It opens up like an umbrella and has a big white flower. Well the roots are really good for your body. And the leaves and flowers, you can make a tea out of it or you can roast them and serve them over meat. It’s very tasty. And there’s also chicory. It’s kind of purplish [in] color and it tastes like coffee!
Even the red clover and the white clover you see along the side of the road is very good for you. A lot of it I don’t have to grow. Earlier this winter I was near Kennywood and found some unusual wild daisies. They are beautiful when they bloom in the spring. So now I’ll have some next year.
It’s mostly making teas and making products from the herbs that I grew all spring. I don’t sell as much tea as I’d like to but that’s a dream – to really extend out and to have teas all year round. I’d have to grow a lot to actually have them all year round. So I can really only have teas during the winter months.
The garden is one of the only places where I really feel at home. I feel relaxed. Stress-free. My mother was an avid gardener. When I was a teenager I just couldn’t get it, but now I just wanna be outside all the time. I got away from it for many years. And now I’m back to it.
DCHP: Food corporations go to [great lengths to] hide the fact that all of their foods are produced by machines. They’re trying to make you think that people are involved. There’s a real difference I find between things that are produced locally by people and things that are produced by machines.
CH: You can taste it! Immediately, immediately.
DCHP: What sort of shift brought you back to [local foods]?
CH: I guess the biggest reason probably was going into my natural skin care business. I bought a book on soap making but I never had time to read it. When [my mother] passed away I really had a rough time ’cause we were so close and I thought, “Let me take a look at this book.” Nov 5, 2003 I made my first bar of soap and it came out perfect!
That’s what really got me into the skincare business. I’ve always liked skin care, and bought it, as most women do, but that’s what really made me switch [to] it. I said, “I cannot have a natural skin care business and eat unnaturally…”
DCHP: Hmm, interesting.
CH: …because it just didn’t make any sense. I am trying to be healthier so I wanna portray a healthier way of living. And it’s a work in progress!
DCHP: What I also get is it’s not so much a question of appearances but how it affects you, how you feel.
CH: Exactly! How it makes me feel. I feel better about myself.
At the beginning [my thought was] it should be a way of life. So I decided, as a slow process, to change my way of eating. So I not only feel better, it matches my lifestyle.
And in the interim of doing that I do feel better. Being around other people who are eating positively kinda rubs off. Foods that are grown naturally do taste good. In major companies they have chemists and their job is to design taste profiles.
DCHP: I find that a lot of those mass-produced, store-bought things might taste good at first but then leave me with this bitter flavor in my mouth and this feeling of just, I don’t know, yuckiness. The ones that are the simplest…
CH: …are the best!
DCHP: And…they leave a sweetness in my mouth instead of a bitterness.
CH: Instead of bitterness, exactly.
DCHP: It sounds like you are on a crusade.
CH: I’ve been eating the wrong way a long time, you know. I have to switch back to [my old way of eating] and I’m enjoying it.
DCHP: So it’s a process of discovering. Or re-discovering.
CH: Exactly. Re-discovering.
DCHP: You said, “You have to.” But I’m not so sure that’s really accurate. What I’m hearing is you want to, that there’s a real value in your body, in your gut.
CH: Oh sure, I’m feeling better, looking better, living longer.
[Speaking about my mother passing,] sometimes we don’t realize the gifts that we get when our loved ones leave us, but they always leave us something. We just don’t know.
That’s probably why I love being in the garden… ’cause when I was a teenager I was like, (in a petulant voice) “Oh no, go pick peppermint?”
And now I find myself out there, probably listening to my mother. It’s a spiritual thing to me. The Native Americans believed that when your parents die their souls go into their children. I believe that.
I used to ask, “Where does a person’s voice go when they die?” They have to go into family. They don’t just disappear. There’s a real connection between people and plants. More than that they’re just pretty. We need them! That’s why when you talk to them they look better! Because you’re connecting!
To me that’s spiritual.
DCHP: Interesting. Is there anything else you do with 3rd Day?
CH: Well I have a natural lotion that I make. It’s a hand and body lotion. It doesn’t have any chemicals in it and it’s made from organic ingredients.
There’s also a formula that I created called Deep Muscle and Joint Cream, which is made with 13 or more anti-inflammatory herbs in an olive oil and beeswax base. If you exercise a lot it eases the strain on your muscles. If you have arthritis it helps ease it up a little bit.
Then I have a natural sugar scrub. I either select an olive oil, a grapeseed oil, or a coconut oil with the herbs and essential oils. It’s made to exfoliate the skin while moisturizing. That’s very popular now.
Then I have a daily moisturizer which is made with turmeric. Turmeric is good for healing cancer cells. So I thought it would be good for the skin. It’s turmeric and honey in an olive oil and argan oil base.
Oh, and there’s another major [product] right now – a body wash made from rosemary and peppermint. It’s very uplifting. It’s a great morning body wash.
DCHP: As I understand it, there are 2 different [business] philosophies. One of them is building relationships with people. The other is that you’re always dealing with new people. They’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and you’ll take advantage of them. But when they realize they’ve been taken advantage of, they’ll never come back.
CH:[Customers] trust me. They can get a hold of me. My customers kind of know me. They say, “Oh where’s your granddaughter? You didn’t bring her with you this week!”
And not only that, repeat customers pay the bills, customers who come once don’t.
And I’ll be honest with you, once you try it, you’ll look for me (for my products). [Once you try it, you’ll] love it.
”Reflecting the Wisdom of the Earth: An Interview with Cynthia Hill, 3rd Day Luxury Soaps and Healing Gardens” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.