‘Inner reflection’ inspires organic, chemical-free shop
Your sense of smell is sharply heightened as you step through the doors of the Organic and Natural Store.
At first it is hard to pinpoint why as you detect hints of herbs, spices, fresh produce and natural oils.
But co-owner Eric Hansen, who owns the store with his wife Susie, has no doubt as to why visitors made that first impression.
"All the natural smells of the foods are coming out because they're not masked by petrochemicals," Mr Hansen said.
He said they built their organically-certified store at The Leap about 25 years ago from recycled and natural materials using only bio paints and lime washes on the walls.
Mr Hansen said he was inspired to help people transition to more natural lifestyles following his own "inner reflection" - a culmination of growing up in the 1960s and discovering two pivotal texts: Rachel Arson's Silent Spring and David Attenborough's A Life on Our Planet.
"We're going through the fifth mass extinction on Earth and the seas are rising really rapidly," he said.
"We've all got to take action."
Mr Hansen said eating organically prevented health issues caused by a "sea of chemicals" and was better for the planet.
Along with stocking environmental products such as rubbish bags and zip bags made from sugarcane, the business also sells certified organic produce such as citrus and bananas grown on the adjoining farm.
Mr Hansen said it was designed along permaculture principles and was supported by three dams, having spent years learning from Maltese, Italian and South Sea Islander families in Mackay as well as working on organic farms across the world.
"Organic growers sequester carbons back into the soils," he said.
"Conventional agriculture uses a lot of soluble fertilisers and pesticides that decarbonises soil and releases a lot of carbon into the atmosphere."
And their shop "nestled in the foothills of Mt Mandurana" has captured worldwide attention.
Mr Hansen said a family from Oregon in the United States had considered holidaying in the Caribbean when they decided on a sailing cruise in the Whitsundays because the store could fill the yacht with organic produce.
"We also get a lot of people who come this way who have got multiple chemical sensitivities that are so sensitive they can't walk into a shopping centre," he said.
"A lot of people have thought of alternatives to the Western medical system.
"We've had people here with chronic disease who start changing their whole lives; and families with little kids and people with an environmental conscious - that's really growing.
"That's why we've got on board with this climate action certification."
Mr Hansen said they also had plans to build edible gardens, a deck overlooking a water feature with native fish, and a bungalow "healing hut" with a masseuse.
For more information, visit the store's website.