Botnia’s Newest Partnership, Growing Something Special

Do you know where your skincare ingredients come from?

You might already know about our Sausalito micro-farm where we care for and grow the botanicals that create Botnia Skincare. As we continue to scale our company, our small but mighty farm can only provide us with so much, and we don’t always have the physical space to grow everything we need. When we look to other farms for our raw ingredients, we want to work within our values of supporting our community to source products from places that have the same organic farming practices we use on our own land. 

Introducing GEM//

We’re beyond thrilled to share a very special partnership that we’ve formed this year with local non-profit, Integrated Community Services, better known as ICS, who since 1994, has built relationships that create an inclusive community for people with disabilities in Marin County. We were especially excited to find that they have a garden program: GEM, that includes vocational garden-based training that provides paid job training for the participants, who are involved in every stage of inventory, planting, growing, and harvesting products, which are sold in CSAs throughout Marin County. 

GEM’s director, Josh Milstein, reached out to us expressing their abundance of blooming flowers and vine-ripened veggies this spring and was interested in supplying Botnia with herbs and flowers from their gardens. “What impressed me about Botnia was how strongly they felt about making sure their ingredients were produced using only sustainable and ecologically friendly practices. That is something we take very seriously at GEM. We use only organic growing methods here because we believe that physical health, emotional health, and environmental health are all interrelated,” says Josh. We were happy to find that GEM’s ethos aligned with the same care we offer our botanicals!

“The gardens, a gem in San Rafael, sits above a beautiful old cemetery. They are lined with eucalyptus and bay laurel trees. They were perfectly organized with their organic composting system and green waste. One of the most impressive things about the greenhouse was the organization of their tools; each tool and amendment had its place. A carefully curated checklist, clearly laid out on a whiteboard, were updates of what was happening, and the daily tasks for each participant. I could tell these gardens are well-loved and cared for.”

-Justine Kahn, Founder of Botnia

After visiting two of GEM’s urban farms and witnessing the care and attention their program has for their plants, we decided to grow Borage, Calendula, Chamomile, Lavender, Rose Geranium, Sweet Annie, and Yarrow on their land.

Gardeners and farmers alike know that connecting with nature can have some incredible healing influences on the body. We realized that the benefits of these amazing plants are two-fold: not only do we get to make our amazing skincare from these botanicals, GEM participants are also benefiting from the healing qualities of these plants. When harvesting nervine herbs like chamomile, the calming essence from this plant helps restore balance and supports the central nervous system as you pick the flowers off the plant. This synergy with our bodies is exactly the reason why we use whole plants in our skincare!

Why this partnership matters//

We care deeply about our community and creating opportunities for all human beings. We’re not just talking about racial inclusivities, but also including those with disabilities, as they discover their own passions and skills through the program. We love how GEM utilizes land that might otherwise be unused to help support the local ecosystem of our community. Of course, we also enjoy teaching others about the benefits and healing power of plants in our lives and how our bodies are created in a completely symbiotic relationship with nature!

“GEM program participants are delighted to know that their hard work is getting turned into healing products for their fellow community members. To be able to have a tangible end-product to show them is incredibly rewarding.”

Josh Milstein, GEM Director

When we purchase our botanicals from GEM, the profits go right back into the training program and continue to build workshops and a curriculum designed to be a launching point for bright careers and financial independence for its over 40 annual participants. Our intention is to be a low-impact company when it comes to the way we treat Mother Earth. By sourcing ingredients locally, we keep the supply chain simple and transparent (and less reliant on fossil fuels to transport faraway ingredients). Plants are the heart of Botnia, and ultimately we carefully chose to grow and source our botanicals in order to make the finest skincare imaginable and to be the best stewards of the earth that we can be.

“I’m so beyond excited to be able to provide incredible resources for Botnia! Especially because I use these products on the daily.” 

Jessy, GEM Participant

We hope when you use your skincare, you know that you also support a community where people from all different walks of life are supported. That the plants healing your skin have also helped heal others in the process. This is what it means to us to be an environmentally driven small business, taking responsibility for each step of our process, and questioning how it can be less of a burden on our planet.



Learn more about ICS’s training program at www.connectics.org/gem and follow ICS on Instagram @ics_org to see our partnership blossom!

Photo credit: Lisa Newmark @lrnewmark

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