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Healing Garden 

Joy Hollowell

For a quarter of a century, Deb Soule has made a living off the earth.Her Rockport business sells medicinal herbs and alternative health products around the globe.As Joy Hollowell tells us, Avena Botanicals is a thriving business that still manages to stay true to its roots.=========”There’s probably 200 different plants and trees and shrubs growing here in the garden,” says Deb Soule, pointing to various spots around her 3 acre garden. “Everything in here is either for medicine or some for culinary and food purposes and then for the pollinators.”Ever since she was a little girl, Deb Soule has known the healing powers of mother nature. In 1985, she started creating homemade remedies out of her house. Word spread quickly, and a decade later, Deb purchased this 32-acre farm in Rockport that is now home to Avena Botanicals.”There’s nine people that work year round,” says Soule. “We harvest everything when they’re at their most potent and most fresh. And they come right inside to the farm house. And then we process them either in the kitchen or we place them in the drying room.”Avena Botanicals is Maine’s largest established provider of medicinal herbs and alternative health solutions. Soule considers herself an herbalist, an organic gardener, a teacher, and a writer. What she doesn’t call herself is a businesswoman.”I laugh because I don’t have any training in business,” says Soule. As a 25-year old, I just started working with my hands in the soil, with a great passion and love and incredible faith in the healing power of plants. And so I still don’t think I know very much about business, I just know really how to follow my heart in which I really believe in.”=====Soule says half of her business is retail and the other half is wholesale.About 70% of their products come straight from the Rockport garden, the other 30% is from organic growers.In addition to offering herbal products, folks can tour the gardens in Rockport.Avena Botanicals is open weekdays to the public. The grounds also house a non-profit education center called the Herbal Classroom. Day and weekend long classes are offered.For more information, you can call Avena Botanicals at 594-0694 or log onto www.avenabotanicals.com