By Kim Kobersmith
Special for NKyTribune
Rachel Eten’s interest in natural healing began when she was a girl and her mother fell ill. She saw that her mother was helping a holistic practitioner, made strict dietary changes and returned to full health.
When Eten, as a teenager, began modeling and traveling the world, she found herself relying on natural health practices. She admits she always kept herbs and offered their healing properties when other models suffered from seasonal allergies or anxiety. “Models are supposed to be the image of health,” says Eten. “There are many in the world of natural health.”
Holistic health is the foundation for Eten’s new business, the Garden of Eten. Her desire is to create a healthier community through plants and natural practices like a neighborhood herb. Through her attention to detail, from sowing the seed to filling the bottle, she produces clean and useful products of which she is proud to put her name.
The business started when Eten and her husband Ryan, both natives of North Kentucky, made the move back to Kentucky after her models in New York, London and Asia. They bought the oldest dairy farm in northern Kentucky and began building a two-acre plot dedicated to botanists. Eten began to invent herbal infusions and word spread among family and friends.
Two years ago, she hit a crossroads – was she willing to go for it and start a business? The entrepreneurial spirit is in her blood; both her parents own their own businesses. Eten Kindergarten fits in with her desire to help people in her community, so she decided to take the first step.
The Garden of Eten product line includes a range of herbal infusions for health. Eten’s most popular elixir is also the most delicious: Elderberry Syrup. To make it, Eten dips the organic berries in local raw honey mixed with warming cinnamon and cloves and with a freshly squeezed ginger juice. Elderberry is known to boost the immune system and customers can take it daily to prevent seasonal allergies or as needed when cold symptoms begin. It is a versatile ingredient, used in salad dressings, cocktails, and even in snow cones.
One of the newest Garden products is Rose Hip Oil. Wild rose hips are soaked in avocado oil for 6 weeks, and the resulting moisturizing day cream is beneficial for older skin. It adds elasticity and reduces coloring for a natural glow.
Another way Eten delivers plant benefits is through Drunken and Sober Botanicals. They derive the health benefits of a single herb and retain it for up to three years. Goldenrod is known for relieving fall allergies, and lemon balm has the ability to reduce anxiety and help with relaxation.
“I want herbs,” says Eten. “They are able to balance the body in a gentle way.”
Eten is special for its ingredients and grows or collects all the plants itself. They grow biologically without pesticides or produced by wild in natural, clean environments. Now a mother of three-year-old Ari, Eten can often be found in her extensive herb garden or gathering the worldly world in the nearby woodland with her son tied on his back. “It’s so wonderful that I can do this job with my travel assistant,” says Eten. “He’s growing a connection to plants and he likes forests.”
The products are processed in the Incubator Kitchen Collective, a non-profit commercial kitchen for business start-ups. Along with the planned 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 close-knit community of small business owners in Kentucky. These entrepreneurs focused on natural living often work together in farmers markets and others include its products in bundles of local products. They are also available for business and tax questions.
Eten has a greater vision beyond its plant product foundation; she wants to educate and connect people towards a healthier life. Garden of Eten has a private group on Facebook and she posts a variety of healthy living resources, from articles about chiropractic care benefits to natural home cleaning tips. In marketing its products, it supports its plants with scientific studies on their effectiveness. “I never make false promises,” she says. “I give people information about science so they can search for it themselves.”
As an herb in the neighborhood, Eten is laying on the ground through natural living events. An April offer will be in partnership with permaculturist Doug Crouch at his medicinal and edible food forest, Lake Treasure. Both will run a wild craft event. Participants will learn about the healing elements around them in nature and will reap a bouquet of personal tea to dry at home.
In May, Eten is coordinating a market with natural nature sellers (think green house cleaners, natural lawn care businesses and local raw honey) at the Alexandria Brewing Company. She also hopes to review health and wellness attractions like the one that was canceled last year. It included fresh healthy foods, yoga and home accommodation.
“There is no better time than now to be healthy,” says Eten.
Beyond plant products, beyond comprehensive educational events, Eten has an even bigger dream. She wants to create a healing atmosphere on her family farm, with a medicinal food forest for fodder and an attractive space for rejuvenation. “Health is about the mind, body and soul,” says Eten. “I want to act as a gatekeeper to help everyone find balance in their lives.”
Find Eten Garden products at Jim’s Jungle, Kentucky Botanical Co. and retailers of natural products in the greater Cincinnati area or order online at www.gardenofeten.com.
Kim Kobersmith is a freelance writer and photographer from Berea.