A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Neighborhood herbalist Rachel Eten builds new business on a foundation of holistic health


By Kim Kobersmith
Special to KyForward

Rachel Eten’s interest in natural healing began when she was a girl and her mother became ill. She watched as her mother engaged the help of a holistic practitioner, made strict dietary changes, and returned to full health.

Rachel Etan foraging for fresh herbs in the forest on her Cold Spring farm. (Photo provided)

When Eten, as a teenager, began modeling and traveling the world, she found herself relying on natural health practices. She admits she always carried herbs and offered their healing properties when other models were suffering from seasonal allergies or anxiety. “Models are supposed to be the image of health,” says Eten. “Many are into the natural health world.”

Holistic health is the foundation for Eten’s new business, Garden of Eten. Her desire is to create a healthier community through herbs and natural practices as a neighborhood herbalist. Through her attention to detail, from planting the seed to filling the bottle, she produces pure and beneficial products that she is proud to put her name on.

The business began when Eten and her husband Ryan, both Northern Kentucky natives, made the move back to Kentucky after her modeling stints in New York, London, and Asia. They purchased the oldest dairy farm in northern Kentucky and began creating a two-acre plot dedicated to botanicals. Eten started concocting her own herbal infusions and word spread to family and friends.

Two years ago, she hit a crossroads – was she ready to go for it and create a business? The entrepreneurial spirit is in her blood; both of her parents own their own businesses. Garden of Eten fit with her desire to help people in her community so she decided to take the leap.

Rachel’s three-year-old son Ari holds prickly burdock seeds found on their farm. (Photo provided)

Garden of Eten’s product line includes an array of herbal infusions for health. Eten’s most popular elixir is also the tastiest: Elderberry Syrup. To craft it, Eten steeps organic elderberries in local raw honey mixed with warming cinnamon and cloves and a dash of fresh-squeezed ginger juice. Elderberry is known for boosting the immune system and customers can take it either daily to prevent seasonal allergies or as needed when cold symptoms begin. It is a versatile ingredient, used in salad dressings, cocktails, and even snow cones.

One of the Garden’s newest products is Rose Hip Oil. The wildcrafted rose hips are infused into avocado oil for 6 weeks, and the resulting topical moisturizer is beneficial for older skin. It adds elasticity and reduces discoloration for a natural glow.

Another way Eten delivers the benefits of herbs is through Drunken and Sober Botanicals. They extract the health benefits of a single herb and preserve it for up to three years. Goldenrod is known for easing fall allergies, and lemon balm has the capacity to reduce anxiety and help in relaxation.

“I love herbs,” says Eten. “They are able to balance the body in a gentle way.”

Eten is particular about her ingredients and grows or gathers all of the herbs herself. They are grown biologically with no pesticides or wildcrafted in natural, clean environments. Now a mother to three-year-old Ari, Eten can often be found in her extensive herb garden or gathering botanicals in nearby woodlands with her son strapped to her back. “It is so great that I can do this work with my sidekick along for the ride,” says Eten. “He is growing a connection to plants and loves the woods.”

The products are processed at the Incubator Kitchen Collective, a non-profit commercial kitchen for launching businesses. Along with scheduled access to the facilities, members receive entrepreneurship training and membership in a supportive and knowledgeable community. They have helped 60 local businesses grow and thrive.

Eten has found a supportive and tight-knit community of small business owners in Kentucky. These natural-living focused entrepreneurs often work farmers markets together and others include her products in bundles of local products. They also are available for business and tax questions.

Ari and Rachel admiring the new green growth of the forest. (Photo provided)

Eten has a larger vision beyond her foundation of herbal products; she wants to educate and connect people towards living a healthier life. Garden of Eten has a private Facebook group and she posts a range of healthy living resources, from articles about the benefits of chiropractic care to tips for natural housecleaning. In marketing her products, she backs her herbs with scientific studies of their efficacy. “I never give false promises,” she states. “I give people information about the science so they can look it up themselves.”

As a neighborhood herbalist, Eten is extending her outreach through natural living events. An April offering will be in partnership with permaculturist Doug Crouch at his medicinal and edible food forest, Treasure Lake. The two will lead a wildcrafting event. Participants will learn about the healing elements around them in nature and harvest a personal tea bouquet to dry at home.

In May, Eten is coordinating a market with natural living vendors (think green house cleaners, natural lawn care businesses, and local raw honey) at Alexandria Brewing Company. She also hopes to revisit health and wellness retreats like one that got canceled last year. It involved fresh healthy food, yoga, and treehouse accommodations.

“There is really no better time than now to be healthy,” says Eten.

Beyond herbal products, beyond immersive educational events, Eten has an even bigger dream. She wants to create an atmosphere for healing at her family farm, with a medicinal food forest for foraging and a retreat space for renewal. “Health is really about mind, body, and spirit,” says Eten. “I want to act as a gatekeeper to help everyone find balance in their lives.”

Find Garden of Eten products at Jungle Jim’s, Kentucky Botanical Co., and natural product retailers in the greater Cincinnati area or order on line at www.gardenofeten.com.

Rachel Etan shares folk tale of how Goldenrod became such a beautiful and powerful plant

Kim Kobersmith is a freelance writer and photographer from Berea.


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