Picture this, it is the first true freeze in the pristine forests of Northern Maine. Icicles hang off the bows of the trees, the cold nips at your nose and fingertips, even inside your gloves. Your feet feel heavy as you snowshoe through the paths the trees have designed. And there you spot it! High up on the bare birch, protruding from the bark, the gnarled burnt amber of the Chaga mushroom.
Nature’s treasure is ready to be harvested.
This is what True North Beauty does on repeat from first freeze to the first thaw in our home of Northern Maine.
While I wouldn’t be the first to suggest that we trek through the forest during the coldest and darkest part of the year, it’s during this time when the tree is dormant.
We purposely conduct the extraction process during this time so that there is never any inherent harm done to the tree nor the mushroom itself. During the harvesting process we always choose to sustain in abundance. This precise and nurturing extraction process also allows for us to retain all of the properties of the Chaga, ensuring the nutrients and antioxidants stay intact and can be distilled into our signature creams.
Now, taking your time to thoughtfully carve the Chaga out of the tree, on the top of a cold ladder in the freezing wind is again, not what I would choose. But we are committed to doing what is best for the trees, not just the company.
And while I may love to complain about the cold, I truly love the harvesting process. It is sacred. It is an honored tradition that has been observed by people on this land for thousands of years. I think about them each time we enter the forest.
Today, most of these trees that are abundant with healthy Chaga grow on the land of our friends and neighbors. These friends care about the trees just as much as we do; luckily, they do not care as much about the Chaga!
With their blessing, just like those that have come before us, Michael and I quietly and gently enter the forest each winter, taking our precious Chaga and leaving the birch as healthy and pristine as we found them. We take care of these landowners’ trees because the landowners take care of us.
The question I receive most about this harvesting process is, ‘how do you know you’ll have enough Chaga for your products?’ And to be perfectly honest, this is not something I ever think about. It is estimated that for every acre of forest, two pounds of Chaga can be found. With 20 million acres of immaculate snowy forest in Northern Maine, I am confident there is more than enough Chaga for True North.
Sure, we are blessed with abundance in our surrounding forests, but we are also precise about our extraction and committed to Chaga’s easy regrowth. Once we are in the forest, survey the trees, and spot the Chaga, we assess. We check to make sure the Chaga is the correct size for harvesting and if it is not, we leave it be, assuring it has more time to grow and can be gathered when the tree is healthy enough.
Once we find the perfect size Chaga, we hoist a portable ladder up and leave a portion of the Chaga embedded on the tree for regeneration. We never dig into the tree as we never want to harm the tree and always want to support future regrowth.
The quiet, thoughtful, and meticulous harvesting process is a hallowed part of our work as a company. We recognize how lucky we are to literally have our hands on every part of the process to develop True North products. From extracting our differentiator from nature, to formulating these ingredients into rich, emulsified creams, to packaging and shipping to your door, we think about you as much as we think about trees.
Our process is natural, sustainable, and intimate. Nature is giving us a treasure.
And at True North Beauty we feel it is our duty and purpose to ensure we never deplete this gift in order to always have access to the ingredient and deliver it back to you in superior clean product.