The scent of lavender, cistus, and immortelle wafts past our noses as we allow our gaze to wander over the sweeping landscape. Grasses and herbs sway gently to and fro in the soft breeze and the foliage of the cork oak rustles as we sit, leaning against its rugged trunk. We’re in Alentejo, a region in the south of Portugal that is unrivalled both in its vastness and its unspoiled beauty.
We take one more deep breath as we think about how we’d love to just stay here forever. That fragrance! Then we blink, open our eyes, and suddenly find ourselves back in our own familiar surroundings, a small piece of cork in one hand, our favorite pair of Wildlings in the other. What just happened?
Together with a colorful pack of fresh Wildlings, the 2020 Spring/Summer collection also features a very special accessory in the online shop – one that is eager to continue its journey in Germany. The new Wildling Cork Discs come bundled in a small bag sewn from remnants of fabric and contain a blend of high-quality essential oils that bring the fresh, herbal fragrance of the Alentejo region in Portugal straight to our homes. And even our Wildlings can look forward to an olfactory-inspired Portuguese adventure, because these two cork discs are marvelously suited to serve as carriers for the aroma blend – just put a drop on each one and place it in your shoes. Naturally, the discs are also well suited for other essential oils that you might already have at home. Farewell, smelly smell! By the way, this blog article offers even more tips on how to protect your shoes from unpleasant odors.
The scent of the wild
The essential oils for the fragrance blend are extracted and processed in the heart of Alentejo at Over the Edge Farm. Originally from England, Nayana, the owner of the farm, is an aromatherapist for people and animals and, like Wildling’s founding family, she lived in Israel for a time. Call it what you will – the fact that Anna and Nayana first got to know each other because of their mutual love of horses might have been coincidence, but it might have been destiny. The fact is that the two of them kept in touch after they left Israel at almost the same time, Anna with her family to Germany, Nayana with her horses to Portugal.
“When I was looking for a new place to live, two things in particular were important to me: having enough space to provide my horses with a life that is in keeping with their nature, and having plants and herbs in the surrounding area that I can use for my aromatherapy. I found both of these things here in Alentejo,” says Nayana, her voice slightly reminiscent of someone who has just fallen in love as she speaks of the region and her farm.
What makes this region so special to her is its spaciousness and the tranquility this brings. “You have the feeling that you have much more room to breathe,” she explains, expressing a feeling that is certainly familiar to some, yet difficult to put into words. This sense of calm also extends to the people who live here. In Alentejo, the clocks tick a little slower, people take time for each other and for what they are doing.
But even in the midst of all the surrounding nature, one thing stands out: Things are by far not as pristine and unspoiled as they once were. A walk among the cork oaks so typical of Portugal, where heavy machinery has stripped away grasses, shrubs, and undergrowth to make the area suitable for agriculture, makes this fact painfully clear. This process frequently causes damage to the roots of the trees, and on top of that, destroys the habitats of small animals and important microorganisms in this ecosystem.
Landscape management works a lot differently at Over the Edge Farm: As the horses roam freely on the farm’s vast, fenced-in grounds, doing what horses do all day long, they naturally keep grasses, herbs, and undergrowth to a minimum, literally shredding dead wood in passing and fertilizing the ground in the process. The farm’s brushcutter is thus only rarely used and there is no tractor.
Through her work on the farm, Nayana seeks to raise awareness about the natural resources the region offers its population and to show that these resources can be leveraged without harming the environment. That’s why she not only produces essential oils herself from indigenous plants, she also holds a variety of workshops on the subject of aromatherapy. Nayana also shares her knowledge about natural horse husbandry and protective landscape maintenance with anyone who is willing to roll up their sleeves themselves.
When things are just meant to be - from idea to Wildling Cork Disc
Visitors who simply want to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature are just as welcome on the farm, and Wildling founder Anna is one of them. It was during one of her visits that the idea for the Wildling Cork Discs was ultimately conceived. “Anna spoke of wanting a fragrance for Wildling. At the time we were in the process of developing the Alentejo fragrance and since Anna liked it, we continued to expand on the idea,” Nayana recalls.
The prototype for an aroma carrier was already on location and was merely waiting to be discovered: a small piece of cork lying in the middle of the yard. However, the decision wasn’t quite that simple, because even though cork has properties that enable it to preserve the scent of the essential oils for a long time and release it into the surroundings, its extraction is not always sustainable. If cork is harvested from trees that are still very young, too old, or already weakened, these trees are usually infested with fungi or other pests or will dry out without their protective bark.
When it came to obtaining the cork chips, we had to find a supplier who would harvest as sparingly and carefully as possible, and of course – how could it be otherwise when it comes to cork – we found one in Portugal.
The heart of Alentejo
Although the Over the Edge Farm also has a cork oak forest, Nayana wants to give them more time to grow. But at the same time she is confident that in the future, the discs for the Alentejo aroma will also come from her farm – everything in its own time, because if there is one thing we know about her by now, it is that the responsible stewardship of resources is as important to her as it is to us.
“We don’t have to wrest the things we need for life from nature by force, but instead, we can draw from what nature offers us, in complete harmony with it. It is my hope that the cork discs will convey this consciousness and the heart of Alentejo: this feeling of being able to breathe deeply, of clearing your mind and, at the same time, being firmly grounded and relaxed.”
We are delighted to have Nayana and Over the Edge Farm as partners on this wild journey towards a more colorful, sustainable world.
Anna, Ran and the Wildlings