Earlier this fall, the city of Montreal’s mayor Denis Coderre approved the dumping of over 8 billion tons of sewage water into the St-Lawrence river – the “best solution given the circumstances” according to scientific and governmental authorities faced with yet another infrastructural failure. As the content of our sewage and the plastic byproduct of the Montreal night life finds a new home at the bottom of our aquatic artery, it is time to become aware of the impact everything we flush down the toilet could have on our immediate environment.
You can find along Quebec’s route 213 in the Eastern townships, the last stretch before reaching the always-imposing American border, a small village unlike any other. An array of fruit merchants and wineries occupying each side of the scenic road warmly greet you as you approach the town-center, where a striking first impression of tranquility immediately relaxes you when you take your first breath outside. The air is chilled, winter has set, but inside the Oneka Element headquarters, co-created by Philippe Choinière and his wife Stacey in Frelisghsburg, the aromas remind you of a warm summer day.
Recognized for the superior quality of their shampoos, Oneka offers a wide variety of personal care products that do not damage the environment during their production, and after their use when they are flushed back into nature. Using boreal plants grown in part on Philippe’s farm, these products distinguish themselves by their softness on your skin, hair, and their fresh aromas. Additionally, such quality is accessible at a reasonable price, a rather rare feature for products labeled as ‘’natural’’.
The secret of a wonderful recipe lies in the quality of the ingredients used. It is therefore essential for them to grow in an optimal environment, which is why Philippe practices the fundamental principles of Permaculture. A plant, for instance, is only a small link in the infinitely complex chain of its ecosystem. Starting with the community of farmers down to the tiniest microbial organism, Permaculture orchestrates the symbiotic dynamics required to optimize agricultural output while healing the land.
‘’ Permaculture is common sense’’ he explains.
In July 2014; 550 people representing 7 different countries gathered on Philippe’s farm for one of the biggest Permaculture conferences in North America.
‘’ Taking an all natural approach, with sensitivity to the land’s needs, as well as sustainable production; the foundation of permaculture is to create systems and methods that are permanently beneficial to the environment and society. “
Choosing Oneka is not only a great way to treat yourself with a superior product at a reasonable price, it also supports a small village economy of people working hard to maintain the prosperity and durability of the agricultural lands of our province. That too, is common sense.
“ We are certainly glad to have them as neighbors “ says the barista and owner of the Beat & Betteraves coffee shop. Should you ever decide to visit the delightful village of Frelighsburg, an outing I highly recommend, make sure not to miss this venue – the atmosphere is rich and the conversations are fascinating.