We’ve been working with Ottawa-based retailer terra20 for just under a year. This incredible store lives in the vacated premises of the original IKEA store at the Pinecrest Shopping Centre and despite its impressive square footage has a cozy and friendly feel. In February I made a visit to wintery Ottawa to host an in-store event with them and had a great time meeting customers face-to-face, checking out the store and speaking with the amazing staff! I’m thrilled to see they love Anointment as much as we love them! Have a look at their blog post!
One minor detail: We’re no longer located in Halifax, Nova Scotia but in beautiful Sackville, New Brunswick on the Tantramar Marshes.
In front of our house stand three majestic maple trees whose leaves turn brilliant red, yellow and orange each fall. Set against the bright blue sky on an incredibly mild fall day, I couldn’t help but lay down in the pile of fallen leaves with the kids enjoying the crunching sound under me, the smell of fallen leaves and the colours. A day of gratitude to remember in the cold of February.
Last week I had the opportunity to lead a soapmaking workshop with a small group of youth from the Sackville Community Garden. Using organic sunflower oil and dried calendula (a type of marigold with excellent skin soothing properties) from their garden we made a small batch of a lovely mild soap.
This was a first for me – I have never given a soapmaking workshop before. I have learned that my workshop space is not particularly well suited to having a group of people! I did enjoy the process and got a rare chance to experiment with a new recipe AND make soap in a rectangular mold for the first time (oh how it is so simple compared to round molds)! It remains to be seen how interested the youth were – their willingness to participate in the process – well, they were a bit stoic about the whole thing but maybe they’ll come to appreciate it later on.
Sunflower oil contains a high percentage of high-oleic acid oils which makes the soap much slower to harden than I am used to – after 48 hours they were still easily ‘smooshable’ when removing them from the molds.
This soap also contains a small amount of annatto seed infused in the lye, giving the soap a lovely light yellow colour and tiny reddish flecks. I can’t wait to try it out and compare it to the super-secret-and-highly-coveted Anointment soap formula.
Jeff and April MacKinnon – Energy Efficiency Champion – Residential Sector
Jeff and April MacKinnon and their three children moved from Nova Scotia to Sackville in April 2011, and into a 150-year-old Victorian farmhouse overlooking the Tantramar Marsh. Even before taking possession they began to research how to make their home more comfortable and much more energy efficient. The MacKinnons had some experience with energy efficiency upgrades having improved the EnerGuide rating of their Nova Scotia home by 30 rating points and reducing their energy bills by almost 50 per cent.
Shortly after moving in they had an energy advisor conduct a pre-upgrade assessment, the first step in their extensive energy efficiency retrofit. The most significant recommendation from the assessment report was to replace their home’s electric baseboards with an energy efficient central heating system. Jeff determined that with the grants available from the Efficiency NB’s Residential Energy Efficiency Program and the federal ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program, a ground source heat pump would provide an efficient system with low operational costs and a reasonable investment payback period.
Over a five month period the family took a top-to-bottom approach to make their home more efficient. The heritage home that, at one time, was the site of a post office, blacksmith shop and grocery store, was retrofitted from an EnerGuide 36 to 76, as energy efficient as an average new home built today.
In addition to the ground source heat pump and modern ductwork and controls, the MacKinnons added spray foam insulation to the basement stone walls (R12) and the header space (R18), blown-in insulation to the attic bringing the level from R0 to R50, they replaced six windows, choosing ENERGY STAR qualified models in locations that would maximize solar heat gain and they also carried out extensive air sealing with the use of caulking and weather stripping throughout the home.
Jeff says prioritizing which areas to improve, selecting products to use and working with contractors & suppliers was made easier with the resources available on Efficiency NB’s website. The site’s Resource Centre features presentations and other helpful links and resources on topics such as insulation, heating systems and building materials. “With the use of these resources we were able to make informed decisions,” he explained.
The MacKinnons are proud of what they have accomplished over the past year and have become advocates for energy
efficiency and Efficiency NB in their community. Jeff feels that retrofits are better for the environment than building a new home considering the total carbon footprint required to clear land, create and transport new materials, construct the building and dispose of waste. “The greenest and most efficient home is one that’s already built,” he says. They are often asked about the work they’ve completed and are quick to emphasize to the importance of doing research and using resources like those available through Efficiency NB prior to undertaking an energy retrofit.
Jeff and April were chosen as the recipients of the Energy Efficiency Champion – Residential Sector Award for their
impressive retrofit which improved their home’s EnerGuide rating by 40 points and reduced energy consumption by
over 60 per cent.
“The best piece of advice I’ve had from another entrepreneur was, ‘if you run your business from your heart, success will follow,’” says April MacKinnon, owner of Anointment Natural Skin Care. That advice is from Jeremy Long, owner of Padraig Cottage Ltd., whose slipper business started in North Vancouver and whose products are now sold in boutiques across Canada, the U.S. and Europe. “I believe authenticity is important, and so is standing behind your principles,” says MacKinnon, “no matter what your financial statements may say.”
It’s her deeply rooted principles about the importance of natural skin care and providing products that don’t comprise her customers’ health or the environment that drives MacKinnon – and it’s paying off. From her base in rural Sackville, NB, MacKinnon, AGE, has expanded her wholesale business across Canada, reaching as far as Edmonton, AB. “We’ve gone from selling in four stores in Nova Scotia to fulfilling orders for 30 stores nationally,” says MacKinnon.
A civil engineer by trade, MacKinnon left the profession in 2006 to pursue the natural health products market full time. She bought Anointment in the spring of 2009. She and her husband, Jeff, moved their growing family from Dartmouth, NS back to her home town of Sackville, NB in YEAR. They are now parents to Anna, 6, Cameron, 5, and Andrew, 1. MacKinnon is a stay-at-home mom who runs Anointment from their 150-year-old farm house.
To grow her business, MacKinnon focuses on the baby and children market. “I find boutiques and online websites that cater to moms like me – women who care about what we’re putting on our family’s skin.” MacKinnon gets weekly requests from stores wanting to carry Anointment products.
“I think the most important thing when supplying to retailers across the county is to commit to supporting them,” says MacKinnon. “You have to treat your retailers well – get your orders out on time, help with merchandizing, be accessible. Basically, empower them to sell your product as well as you would if you were in their stores. And never underestimate the power of professional branding. It gives retailers more confidence in your product.”
Her future plans include opening an Anointment retail store in Sackville, NB, and joining the Atlantic economusee network. “Soap making is physically demanding, but really rewarding. I want to contribute to the local economic development here and job creation – I want to employ women like me who have a strong business sense and young children.” – Heather MacLean
The bees are out! With high temperatures last week the bees were out looking for pollen, and unfortunately for it being March and all, there was none. We’ve put out “sugar water” feeders for them, which they enjoy by the dozens. Jeff also made up peanut-buttery looking “pollen substitute” from a combination of brewer’s yeast, soybean flour and water. This will provide important food for the larvae as they hatch to ensure our colony gets a good start to the season – otherwise the baby bees would hatch and starve to death, jeopardizing the entire colony.
The south-facing willow trees are already covered in fluffy pussy willows so blooms aren’t far behind – let’s home for a bumper honey yield this year and a successful colony!
This Tuesday evening I had the opportunity to hear Sheila Watt-Cloutier speak on climate change in the Arctic and the human rights impact on Inuit and indeed the rest of us as a result of government inaction to fight global warming. It was a dire warning and an uplifting speech that left me wanting to do more. If you have an hour, listen to her presentation, which was broadcast live to universities across Canada and around the world from Mount A via Isuma.tv: Sheila’s presentation.
With COP-17 meetings happening right now in Durban, South Africa, we can only hope the governments of the world will do the right thing and create drastic and enforceable policy surrounding greenhouse gas production. If they don’t, well, we will all pay. Our children will pay.
One thing I had forgotten about this area is the annual migration of Semipalmated Sandpipers, Lesser Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers at Johnson’s Mills, NB near Dorchester Cape. Each year as a kid my family would visit the beach to watch the flocks of birds – numbering more than 250 000 feed on mud shrimp in preparation for their four-day non-stop migratory flight to South America. My friend Sam, a wildlife biologist with Environment Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service), Jeff and our five collective children took a drive to Dorchester Cape yesterday to watch the birds. We arrived just as the tide was retreating and were rewarded with an estimated 250 000 birds sitting on the mud flats waiting for the opportune time to start feeding. We watched hawks try to prey on the birds, saw a seagull actually eat one which startled the entire flock and they began flying about the beach in the formations shown in the video.
Jeff shot this video with his iPhone, and it’s not as much of a close up as we would have liked – the flocks of birds look a bit like swarms of bugs, but it is breathtaking and amazing to watch nature in action. The Nature Convervancy of Canada has purchased and protected hundreds of acres of land in and around Johnson’s Mills to help protect these species at risk in the Bay of Fundy.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Bay of Fundy, it has the highest tides in the world with high and low tide heights varying by about 13 metres (40-44 feet) twice each day. Here is some spectacular time-lapse photography of the Hopewell Rocks.
Here is a video by the Nature Conservancy and some local biologists (I see you guys every week at the Farmer’s Market) that shows some interesting footage of the birds in flight!
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