A Message from Herbalist Deb Soule:
The late summer sun is shining in amber hues as I sit down on a bench in the garden to reflect upon the past 35 years. Hummingbirds are chasing each other throughout the garden, not yet having begun their autumn migration south. They are gathering their energy, sipping nectar from the flowering plants -- brightly-colored nasturtium flowers, zinnias, red bee balms, and Mexican sunflowers -- that line our garden edges; all planted for the pollinators. Buzzing bees bob and journey between one flower and another, their legs laden with a bounty of pollen. This is a symphony that I wish every person could listen to, a dance that I wish everyone could pause and take time to watch. What a beautiful reminder of how connected we all are. Thanks to the pollinators, our gardens flourish and we are able to infuse the gifts of so many herbs into our tinctures, oils, cremes, salves, and teas.
It was 25 years ago that Avena Botanicals moved to this old farm. Many hearts and hands have helped me tend Avena's magnificent 3-acre gardens. Vibrant colors, aromas and roots, leaves, flowers, and seeds fill our drying rooms and apothecary shelves with the generous and compassionate spirit herbs embody. Three gardeners and myself hand-harvest over 800 pounds of fresh herbs from our farm annually.
Inside our production facility, a group of ten dedicated staff do the work it takes to manage a small business committed to thoughtfully preparing, by hand in small batches, our many beloved herbal products. Each day, we renew our commitment to create the highest quality herbal products while nurturing plants, people, and pollinators. We believe that connecting people everywhere with the gifts of wellness that come from organic and biodynamic gardens is beautiful work. I like to think that we put the spirit and vitality of our garden into each bottle and jar that we send to you. The fresh herbs that we use promote well-being of the body, mind, and spirit and encourage humans to be mindful and loving stewards of the Earth.
When you purchase our products, you are supporting a team of people whose stewardship of the land is a core part of their work. It is our honor to tend this parcel of land nestled in the rolling hills just a few miles inland from the ocean in Maine's midcoast region.
In 1998, just a few years after starting to transform Avena's land from farmland into gardens, I began moving beyond organic agricultural practices and started using biodynamic practices
-- in that year, Avena became the first Demeter-certified biodynamic farm in Maine.
For those of you who aren't already familiar with it, biodynamic agriculture is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to gardening and farming. It is agriculture in service of the Earth and humanity. Based on the work of philosopher and scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner, biodynamics views the soil and farm as living organisms and places significant attention on soil health and plant, pollinator, and animal diversity. With biodynamic agriculture, fertility is generated from within the farm, reducing reliance on imported organic amendments and fertilizers. Biodynamics consciously works with seasonal, solar, and lunar rhythms, recognizing the connection between the garden's gifts and patterns of the larger cosmos that influence all life. All around the world now, people are studying and applying biodynamic principles and practices in gardens, farms, and orchards to support the Earth's healing and resilience. This gives me hope that humans will turn to living in harmony with nature and to cultivating an inner spiritual life that respects all living beings. As Avena steps into her 35th year, we are aware of essential steps we need to take in order to remain on a sustainable path.
We continue to set our prices at the lowest level we can manage while equally valuing our dedication to working respectfully with medicinal plants. It has become clear that we need to increase our prices so that we may continue to provide you with the same high quality, hand-crafted herbal products. We have not raised our prices for five years.
From seed to bottle, we are dedicated to caring for our garden, the soil, trees, medicinal herbs, pollinators, each other, and you, with integrity, respect, and love. We love harvesting herbs ourselves in baskets that we cradle in our arms. We then savor using simple, traditional ways of creating herbal products in small batches, to ensure the best quality and also to honor the plants -- working with them with our own hands, not with large machines meant for mass-manufacturing. We cherish moments of connection with you, personally answering questions when you call or write to us, and shipping packages out ourselves to you with love. None of this is something that we want to outsource or take shortcuts to complete, because it's part of how we keep the old, beautiful ways of herbal medicine alive in a world that often feels too fast-paced and overwhelming.
In addition to our adherence to time-honored ways of crafting herbal products, and even though we are a small business with a tiny staff, we have kept pace with the shifting landscape of regulations. Our facility, just a few footsteps away from our gardens, is FDA-compliant and we have a stringent quality-control program that records details on every batch of herbal products we create and utilizes third-party laboratories to test them for safety and quality.
Keeping pace with the regulatory landscape is just one area in which we have incurred substantial cost increases over the past several years. We have also needed to upgrade our technology systems to maintain accurate records and to continue offering products to you for online ordering. In years with drought or unpredictable weather conditions, some of our harvests may fall short of what we need to create products, and at such times, we partner with other domestic organic and biodynamic farmers to fill the shortfall. While these endeavors are certainly necessary, our overall cost to craft products has gone up and, despite this, we have absorbed the costs and held our prices very steady for the past five years. We are the only Demeter-certified biodynamic farm and FDA-compliant facility that we know of that hand-crafts herbal tinctures, cremes, and salves on a small scale.
We've also come to realize that we have been offering prices competitive to large-scale manufactured tincture makers for many years. Our true costs reflect that we grow over 70% of the most vital biodynamic herbs on our farm for use in our products.
Herbs that we cannot grow here in Maine, we purchase from domestic organic and biodynamic farms with whom we have a personal relationship. This vitality is a difference you can taste in our tinctures and feel in the luxurious silkiness of our cremes and salves.
We are dedicated to honoring the spirit of the plants and offering products that can contribute to your wellness by always utilizing the best herbs for our products -- not those of unknown origin that might otherwise keep our costs down. With these increased costs, we are now at a point where we are faced with the very difficult decision to either begin discontinuing dozens of our products altogether or to increase our prices. To continue crafting artisanal herbal remedies in a traditional, holistic and spiritually alive way, we have decided that we will be increasing our product prices as of Sept. 7th, 2020 (Labor Day).
Our website will be offline that day as we transition our systems to our new pricing structure. Thank you in advance for your patience as we make this transition.
We have received such touching notes over the years from many of you who appreciate our array of premium quality products and, for that reason, we want to continue offering you a wide variety of items with updated pricing. We are in the process now of improving our offerings with some new and exciting products to be released in coming months. If you are subscribed to our email newsletter, we will send you an email announcing these new products as soon as they are released. In the meantime, we welcome you to browse our product offerings here: www.avenabotanicals.com
These times are not easy for small businesses, but we are dedicated to doing everything possible so that we may serve you well into the future. We look forward to continuing to be your trusted source for the highest quality herbal products that are crafted with the care and ethical standards you value from Avena Botanicals.
Please know that we value and appreciate your effort to support small farms like ours! Thank you for letting your friends and family know about Avena Botanicals.
With much appreciation,