Early morning in a four-acre farm in Thika, 25 miles northeast of Nairobi, Kenya. Proud farmer Charity is walking among her cherished avocado trees, tenderly pressing the sun-kissed, plump fruit to check for ripeness. She is making the rounds of her fruitful four-acre farm, where she can supply the majority of what her family needs year-round. A few chickens provide all the natural fertiliser she needs so she can grow coffee, maize, bananas, mangoes, chillies and spices, and macadamia nuts alongside the abundant avocados.
Now in her 80s, Charity has been working this farm with her family for more than 40 years. Key to the success of the farm are her 23 avocado trees, most of which she planted with her husband more than 30 years ago. Today, they stand tall and bountiful, resplendent from the regular diet of plentiful sunshine, mulched maize stalk, and fertiliser from the farm’s animals. They produce between 250kg and 400kg of Hass and Fuerte varieties each year, with her prize tree giving 480kg of fruit one year alone. Charity is one of around 100 local farmers supplying our fair trading processor with firm, ripe, organic avocadoes to turn into a rich and luscious oil for a consistent and fair price.
When the avocados are ripe, they’re picked by hand where possible, cutting extra stalk to preserve their freshness. The highest fruits are drawn down using a wooden pole with a sharp hook at the end. They are then transferred as quickly as possible to the processing plant to be turned into a mild, golden oil that we use across our range of products.
At the processing facility, the fruit is spread on to steel tables, where they are halved and the stalks and stones removed by hand before a machine chops them quickly into small chunks before the fruit oxidises. These chunks are then dried gently in a second machine to preserve them without compromising their nutritional content. If the flesh were simply cold-pressed, as many vegetable oils are, the finished product would be bright green and not suitable for use in cosmetics as it would ferment quickly. Instead, it is taken to another factory where a centrifuge spins this green mass at such force that the different densities separate and the now golden yellow oil can be tapped off, in the perfect state to be used in our cosmetics.
Light but intensively nourishing, we use it in one of our richest hand creams, but the oil is also delicate enough to go into our facial moisturisers. As avocados are packed with monounsaturated fats, which help to improve the tensile strength of hair, we also use it in conditioners.