Written by Jean-Martin Fortier
Photography by Andre-Olivier Lyra & Sacha Roy
Every fall, my wife and I journey to the coast of Maine in search of waves to surf and that extra taste of life you get by the ocean. That’s how I met Dominic Thibault and Dan Marion of Fresh Pickins. The pair were introduced to me by a mutual friend with a hasty message, “Cool farmers living five minutes from our spot on the coast. You’ll love ‘em. Dominic is from Québec.’’
It’s why I shouldn’t have been surprised by how much I loved their farm, nothing like a typical market garden. The pair use herbs and flowers, both cultivated and wild, to craft unique personal care products sold through their online store, farmers’ markets and a variety of boutiques on the coast.
The Fresh Pickins business model is different from a traditional hand-care product company. While they grow some of the herbs they use, they also forage ingredients in order to make their end-products truly unique: Maine Holy Basil for tea and tinctures, Wild Chaga for lip balm, Cedar- Bergamot for hand salves, Beach Rose for their face oil, and so much more.
They’ve divided their range into four categories: Ocean, Forest, Mountain and Farm. They believe this fits their products best, and more importantly, encapsulates their lifestyle philosophy. Because the diverse ecosystems of Maine are ideal for foraging sagas - a good portion of the material and ingredients they use are farmed, as they say, directly from Mother Nature. Ocean, forest, mountains, farm – these four diverse locations comprise the playground for Fresh Pickins products.
“For Fresh Pickins, harvesting seaweed for hairspray is the perfect excuse for a surf mission; collecting Chaga for lip balm provides the opportunity for a ski trip, and so on.’’
“Our passions for adventure and botany have opened up a world of experiences,” says Dominic, with great enthusiasm. “Obviously, this idea of wild harvesting was first inspired by our love of being outside in nature, but it has evolved to really help us grow our small-farm business. That’s the reason we developed our brand around four elements - they’re not exactly the traditional four elements of earth, air, water and fire, but they feel like our four elements.”
Dominic is French-Canadian, from the small town of Le Bic on the south coast of the Saint-Lawrence River. She was raised by a family that did everything with their hands, from tapping trees for maple syrup to sailing and making handcrafts. She’s a seasoned snowboarder and brand campaign designer - or, at least, she was, before she broke from her moorings and leapt into the unknown.
“Working for these stressful design projects fulfilled some of my needs, but it was while living in a cabin in Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges (Canada) that I really felt I was breaking new ground within myself. It seemed I was always craving that time after work, just before dark in my garden, when I could write and fill my books with herbalism research. Even then, I think I knew something else was coming.” When Dominic set out on a solo quest to put her “Quebec belly” into the Maine ocean, she met Dan’s crew, The Bottom Feeders. The connection was instantaneous. “They were so nice to me. So I just kept driving down, every month, and having the best expeditions with them, sailing to islands, surfing, shredding snow. It hasn’t stopped since.”
*Adapted for online, read the full article in the first edition of Growers & Co. Magazine