Wednesday, March 04, 2009

aromatherapy adventures

Some of Marion's tea blends sold at local grocers, and the re-designed One Mango Tree eye pillow.

Yoga is getting big here in Kampala. Big in the sense that there is really good ashtanga vinyasa, and there's a nice (and growing) contingent of yogis that show up regularly for classes. Through the network of Kampala yogis, it's not too difficult to find meditation classes, massage therapy, lomilomi massage (and training workshops!), cranialsacral therapy, ayurvedic practice and counseling, etc. etc.

It's getting so big, in fact, that "The Munyonyo Studio" (as I call it) - Kevin and Gavin's beautiful home on Lake Victoria - is hosting Africa Yoga's spring teacher training course. One Mango Tree is providing all of the yogic accoutrement - mat bags, bolsters, eye pillows, meditation cushions, malas, organic cotton t-shirts. The resulting new product development has sent me to some amazing and unusual new places.

Yesterday it was Happy Herbs Ltd. - 100% organic herb farm near the airport in Entebbe. Started as a hobby garden by Marion Boenders (when she's not co-running Wagagai Ltd., a flower export company), Happy Herbs is a small farm that grows a wide range of aromatherapy and medicinal herbs - from tea tree (only grower in Uganda!) to staple cooking herbs like basil, thyme, marjoram. Marion and I spent the afternoon pinching leaves to get ideas for fillers for the One Mango Tree eye pillows. After a stop off at the drying shack (shelves and shelves of harvested herbs drying out and awaiting the chopper or blender - depending on their final destination) - we went into the storage room to start mixing.

The room is lined with rough shelving and neatly organized, colorful plastic buckets - labeled with all sorts of interesting things - including pulverized specimens like plantain, moringa, alfalfa (Marion makes capsule supplements as well). We took out some buckets and started mixing, smooshing the herbs in our hands to combine and release the smells - settling on five scent varieties. My favorite is Lemon Mint - which I imagine will be quite energizing and refreshing (especially when chilled) as an eye pillow. We mixed Lemon Balm, Lemongrass, Spearmint and Peppermint.

I'm currently checking into the export rules for products that include herbs - so you might be seeing Happy Herbs as part of the One Mango Tree line up in the US very soon!

Marion also makes a variety of herbal teas - I sampled a delicious one with lunch, which we shared on her patio overlooking Lake Victoria. Happy Herbs indeed.

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