The story of the incense tree and its valuable resin:
from Gregor Sieböck
What a magical day amidst fragrances, essences, wonderful encounters, high spirits and connectedness with the Earth! During my first phone conversation with Jean Claude Richard, the manager of Farfalla, I already felt that this would be a very special meeting!
Full of anticipation I got on the train to Switzerland in the morning at sunrise. I suddenly felt how this magical Zotter trip gathered more and more momentum and seized up like a tornado. A deep happiness and gratefulness arose in me and a smile flew across my face. I walked from the train station in a suburb outside of Zurich to Farfalla and when I got there, I discovered countless blooming flowers in the garden. It had rained over night and suddenly the morning sun emerged from behind clouds. The water droplets began to glisten in the sunlight and I probably spent an hour watching the play of light and colour on the bloomage. Many of the most beautiful things in life are free and are simply there. You just have to see them... Replete with the fragrance of the flowers and their blaze of colours, I ascended the stairs to Farfalla. Jean Claude approached me beaming with joy and began to tell me about Farfalla...
It all began with four school friends wanting to give their lives a purpose while simultaneously doing something that they enjoyed. So in 1982, they founded Farfalla and specialised on aroma therapy and fragrance essences. They were inspired back then by a small group of female organic farmers in a mountain village in the Cévennes in France. Claire awoke a passion for wild plants in the other four friends and taught them many things about nature and plants, which plants like each other and which neighbours they prefer. She showed them how plants communicate with their fragrances and roots and that they appreciate diversity just as we humans do. Finally, Claire became the first supplier of mountain lavender.
In the past thirty years, Farfalla has slowly and organically grown, remained financially independent and has 75 employees by now. Farfalla is one of the first businesses to be certified according to the Certified Sustainable Economics (CSE) standard. The certification is based on the three pillars ecology, economy and ethical actions. The check is repeated every year and each year, three new goals are set. In 2012, the social goal was to set up a handicapped workspace, the ecological goal was to implement a plastic recycling system for cosmetic tubes and bottles in all Farfalla shops and the economic goal was to switch to an alternative bank, so that even the company's finances will fully conform with the issue of sustainability in the future. Furthermore, Farfalla operates according to the principles of the Common Good Economy inspired by Christian Felber, which correlates with the fact that the difference between the wages of the company's lowest and highest earners is very small with a ratio of 1: 1.33. At the same time, I could observe with how much joy and enthusiasm the employees go about their work.
Farfalla focuses on organic quality and fair trade and it is very important to Jean Claude to not just know all suppliers personally, but to also build an amicable partnership with them. That way he knows exactly who is behind all the products that Farfalla buys. As of recently, Farfalla has the Grand Cru label. It distinguishes essences of organic quality that have been cultivated in their country of origin and come from wild harvesting. Wild harvesting according to organic criteria guarantees the best quality because the plants thrive in exactly those plant communities and in those places that correspond with their nature. This also promotes biodiversity. The Grand Cru certificate also makes sure that a social added value is created.
Farfalla has established its own distillery in Corrence in the Prevence. Correns is the first village in France that is entirely cultivated according to organic criteria. It lies in a basin and is only accessible via a narrow ravine and a slightly wider street. Because it is surrounded by hills, bees don't fly away but stay on-site and thus pollinate only organically cultivated areas. Wine, olives and Mediterranean plants such as lavender, sage, thyme or iris grow in Correns. The farmers love wild hogs, which is why they grow wheat for the sows. It wasn't at all easy for Farfalla to convince the farmers to give up part of their wheat fields in order to cultivate flowers for the flower essences.
In Madagascar, Farfalla has also established a community project together with three other companies. That is how they can buy 30 different products from 2000 small famers directly on-site. Among other things, this is where the organic cocoa is cultivated in symbiosis with many other domestic plants in strip cultivation. The added value remains local, as the farmers produce the essences - whether in the Provence or in Madagascar, it is one of Farfalla's principles to ensure the financial independence of the farmers.
And now for the incense essence for the Zotter chocolate. It comes from the highlands of Somalia. It is Arabic incense, boswellia cartelli, the finest incense in the world. Jean Claude showed me a few pictures of the incense trees and it seemed as if the plants had already died. And yet they are true survivors, as they grow in a very dry climate at temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius. Because there is almost no shade, the incense tree has developed its own method to thrive in the hottest regions of the Earth. Through its leaves it exudes odourant molecules and thus builds a bell of fragrance. With this it filters the sun rays and provides itself with a bit of coolness. Incense is harvested from December to May. To get incense, the bark of the tree is cut and three months later, the resin tears are collected. The bark is the protective cloak of the tree. Resin closes the wounds and has a cell-regenerating effect. This is why incense is one of the most skin-regenerating remedies. The first-class quality is transparent and lemon-like, the second-class quality is duller. For the Zotter incense essence, the first-class quality of the best incense in the world is processed - from the highlands of Somalia directly to Bergl.
The more Jean Claude Richard tells me about the corporate philosophy, the more my certainty grew that Farfalla is simply unique. At any rate, since today I have a favourite cosmetic company - for the first time in my life: Farfalla! Don't panic, it's organic!
Full of joy I travelled back to Austria by train and a feeling of vitality awoke within me. All of a sudden, everything came together: the trip, work, love, joie de vivre and freedom. Farfalla lit the sun in me and I am in love with life!