Jana Bergant lives in Istria, in Slovenia, and works with indigenous herbs. She grows and uses many local herbs for the cosmetic products of her company “Bonistra” and, in particular, focuses on hydrolates and essential oils. Thus, she is an expert for local herbs and contributed to the AlpBioEco project as part of the regional professional team with the local project partner Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia. Both Jana Bergant and AlpBioEco benefit from the cooperation: Jana Bergant brings her knowledge and experience to the table but can also collect new knowledge and establish new collaborations herself.
AlpBioEco: Thank you very much for taking part in the interview with AlpBioEco. Would you like to shortly introduce yourself and your company?
My name is Jana Bergant and I cultivate and distill indigenous herbs of Istria into hydrolates and essential oils. Eight years ago, I invested my savings in 1 ha of fertile land. I left my job in the city of Ljubljana and moved to the countryside, to Slovenian Istria, in the Dragonja River Valley. Then, in the wild nature of Istria, I was seduced by aromatic herbs and fell in love with their hydrolates, aromatic waters, which I obtain now from medicinal herbs by steam distillation. I created a story, a business concept and after five years of presence with products on the Slovenian market, I upgraded it and named it – Bonistra, Born and Istria. This is also the name of my company whose operation is much broader than just the “production” of high quality hydrolates and essential oils. I am actively involved in various professional projects through which I strive to raise the profile of the use of hydrolates and essential oils in a safe way in everyday life and as a complementary help with health problems.
AlpBioEco: What are hydrolates and why are they good for the health?
Hydrolate is a product obtained by the process of distillation of medicinal and aromatic plants (various parts, it can be flowers, but it also can be leaves, leaves with a stem, needles, or citrus peels). On the one hand, we obtain water-insoluble volatile compounds – these are essential oils – and on the other hand, we obtain water-soluble volatile compounds – hydrolates. Other terms used to describe hydrolates are aromatic water, rose water, or hydrosol. The most common uses of hydrolates are cosmetic (e.g. as mouthwash, aftershave, soaps, or creams). Also, they are used often in therapeutic treatments: for hot or cold compresses, for preparing baths, in an evaporator or humidifier, or for home saunas or in the pool. Hydrolates have many advantages, for example, they are the most natural cosmetic product, they are gentle and have a therapeutic effect, there is no need to dilute them, and allergies are rare. Everyone can use them every day!
AlpBioEco: How did you come to work with herbs?
In fact, it was not a business decision in the beginning. It was more about a lifestyle change. And because I am innovative by nature, determined in my decisions, I recognized the neglected potential in herbs. In any case, it is a rather holistic view and approach, which is also where my strategic thoughts, which I developed in my previous job, lead me.
AlpBioEco: What local herbs do you grow and use?
I started with very common Mediterranean herbs: melisa (lat. Melissa officinalis), yarrow (lat. Achillea millefolium), rosemary (lat. Rosmarinus officinalis), cypress (lat. Cupressus sempervirens), bay laurel (lat. Laurus nobilis), winter savory (lat. Satureja montana), immortelle (lat. Helichrysum italicum), lavender (lat. Lavandula intermedia). This year, I added three herbs: clary sage (lat. Salvia sclarea), myrtle (lat. Myrtus communis) and salvia (lat. Salvia officinalis).
AlpBioEco: How did you cooperate with AlpBioEco? Why is the collaboration with AlpBioEco beneficial and important for you?
I was attracted to the AlpBioEco project from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia by Mrs. Vesna Miličič, which is the regional holder of the project. My work in the field of herbs coincides with the definition of the AlpBioEco project. In addition, my knowledge and experience are rich in the field of strategic marketing and management of large projects and the creation of innovative ideas. There are not many with such a profile involved in agriculture. So I became an active member of the regional professional team.
AlpBioEco: Thank you very much for the interview!
Jana Bergant collaborated within the AlpBioEco project for the development of the business model herbal pacifier. If you need more information about this collaboration and the business model, please read the AlpBioEco Best Practice Brochure.
You can also have a look at the AlpBioEco video of a business visit with Bonistra Ltd. in Slovenia, which features Jana Bergant as well: https://www.alpine-space.eu/projects/alpbioeco/en/publications/project-movies/image-video
Photos: © DEMO Studio