Skincare Products Made On A Farm Using Natural Ingredients
By Carol Davis
Photography by Greg Latza
The rustic exterior of Gayl Bousman's workshop belies the fragrant treasures that await inside — soaps, lotions, balms, powders, and oils to soothe the skin and refresh the soul.
Here, in this "soap house," Gayl and her handful of employees create soaps and skincare products from natural ingredients — milk from her own goats, honey from her own bees, sweetgrass, green tea, essential oils, and flowers grown on her own property.
But these sweet-smelling soaps and body products do much more than make your skin smell and feel good.
For Gayl Bousman, they saved her farm.
'Back to the Land'
Gayl and her family embraced the rural life 36 years ago when they moved from Kansas City, Mo., about 2½hours south, to Osceola, a community of less than 1,000. There, they bought a 70-acre farm and promptly named it Evening Shade Farm, after the Arkansas town near where Gayl grew up.
"We wanted to move back to the land," she explains. "We wanted to raise our kids in the country."
But it took more than the desire to be there; it took lots of hard work farming land that, at some places, was nothing more than 6 inches of soil on top of rock.
They had electricity but no plumbing, relying instead on a hand well. They eventually would add on to the small farmhouse.
"We were so naïve about everything," she recalls, with a shake of her head.
They started an organic farm — the first in their area — and sold produce at the City Market in Kansas City. But despite hard work, frugal living, and bartering, the farm just wasn't providing enough to live on.
"We realized we'd have to get jobs, because you can't barter for propane or electricity," Gayl says.
After such jobs as salmon fishing and working on a highway construction crew, she learned, quite by accident, that she could, indeed, make a living off her land.