Avena Botanicals
HOME PAGEUnique_Maine_Farms.html

Name:              Avena Botanicals

Address:           Deb Soule

                          Avena Botanicals

                          219 Mill Street

                          West Rockport, Maine  04856

Phone:             207-594-0694


Website:           www.avenabotanicals.com

Email:             info@avenabotanicals.com

Facebook:        Avena Facebook Page


Customer Service:     Monday-Friday  10-5

Gardens& Shop:        Monday-Friday   12-5

Closed Weekends and Holidays

Products and Services:

-Alcohol-free glycerites

-Ayurvedic remedies

-Biodynamic gardens

-Books and DVD’s

-Bulk dried herbs

-Compound Extracts

-Cremes, Elixirs, Essential Oils

-Educational programs, classes, walks

-Flower Essences

-Gardener’s Products and Gifts

-Herbal Powders & Supplements

-Infused Medicinal Oils

-Salves & Lip Balms

-Single Herb Extracts

-Specialty Products

-Teas and Accessories

What Makes Avena Botanicals Unique?

If you happened to attend the Common Ground Country Fair on Saturday, September 21, 2013, and if you were fortunate to have had the opportunity to listen to Deb Soule’s Keynote Address on Honoring Women Farmers and Gardeners, you would know why she is so well-respected as a biodynamic gardener, herbalist, healer, teacher, and person.  It was obvious that Deb dedicated an extraordinary amount of time and conducted a great deal of research to be able to include so much information about women and gardening and farming, from both a local and global perspective.

Those who know Deb Soule were probably not surprised that the address was of such outstanding quality and so meaningful.  Deb’s focus on being all-inclusive and compassionate, and her willingness to share her knowledge with others, are some of her defining characteristics.  Deb recognized several individuals in her address starting off with Heather Spalding of MOFGA. She continued to proceed with a list of many women who have contributed to MOFGA’s success in many capacities over the years. 

During her address, Avena staff members lined up in front of the audience and held signs for the different aspects of the relation between women and agriculture.  Jennifer Neptune, a Penobscot basket maker, was invited to the stage.  She had specially made a Native American basket for fairgoers in which they could place the name of a woman who was deserving of being honored. 

Throughout the speech, references were made to women who contributed to farming and gardening.  Some of the women mentioned were individuals who have received a great deal of national notice such as Rachel Carson,  Helen Nearing, and Vandana Shiva.  Others mentioned were women who have contributed greatly to the advancement of farming and gardening in Maine. Organizations supporting small farms, such as Cultivating Community and Sustainable Harvest International,  were praised.  There were references to international women authors and activists.  Deb’s Keynote Address concluded with “Mourning Doves Don’t Sing,” an original song written and performed by Deb and Malcolm Brooks. 

The concept of gratitude figured prominently in Deb Soule’s Keynote Address.  Being thankful is a major force in the way that Deb seems to approach gardening and life in general. On a fall visit to the Avena Botanical gardens in Rockport, Deb shared that she is very appreciative of the influence that her  grandmother played in her love for plants.  She is also grateful to the many other individuals who took the time to share their knowledge and expertise in regard to the medicinal uses of herbs.  At just sixteen years of age, Deb studied with Mary Bove, the renown medical herbalist. As a student at the College of the Atlantic, she had the opportunity to travel to Nepal and learn about the inter-connectedness of plants that are found in nature with healing and spirituality.  Other influences in her life have been the gathering and use of plants that various Native healers have shared with her.

Just as many individuals have contributed to Deb’s knowledge and understanding of the uses of various plants, she has made a conscious effort to share her knowledge with others in lectures, tours, and workshops.  She and her staff welcome visitors to the gardens and herb shop in Rockport.  The gardens, which constitute three acres of the farm property, are filled with winding paths, an eclectic collection of statues, small pools, plants that attract pollinators,  wooden gates, lush arbors, a pond, and benches for meditation.  Signage at the entrance to the gardens helps visitors become oriented to everything that can be viewed and enjoyed.   There are also explanatory booklets that prove to be very informative.

Deb works with several physicians who are based in holistic medical practices and open to learning more about the role that herbal plants can play, not only in healing, but also preventing various illnesses.  Dr. Dan Einstein has set up an office in the Healing Center at Avena Botanicals and he meets with patients there.  Other specialists at the Healing Center include Jillian Kelsey-Rose, an herbalist, and Lindsey Bagley, a Licensed Massage Therapist and an Arvigo Mayan Abdominal Therapy practitioner.

The Herbal Classroom is the a non-profit 501c3 branch of Avena Botanicals.  It is situated in a brand-new partially-finished octagonal building on Avena’s property.  Classes in herbal medicine, biodynamic and organic herb gardening, and Ayurved are taking place in this building.  The Herbal Classroom is still in need of donations to help in the completion of its construction and to be used towards various materials and labor.

In 2011, Avena Botanicals became the first Demeter-certified biodynamic farm in Maine.  As explained on the biodynamics webpage of the Avena Botanicals website, there are many similarities between biodynamic gardening and organic gardening, when it comes to the focus on composting, the use of cover crops, green manures, mulching, rotation of crops, and companion planting.  Biodynamics includes a spiritual component and the incorporation of “specially-made preparations that are applied to the soil, leaves, and compost pile following the natural rhythms of the day, the seasons, and the moon and planets.”

In addition to the Demeter biodynamic certification, Avena Botanicals’ gardens have been certified by MOFGA - the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.  Deb Soule has enjoyed a long-lasting relationship with MOFGA.  She set up her first booth with her herbal products at the Common Ground Country Fair in 1985.  She now grows over 150 different medicinal herbs and plants.  Over the years she has developed an amazing selection of herbal products including salves, bulk dried herbs, elixirs, essential oils, Ayurvedic remedies, alcohol-free glycerites, compound extracts, cremes,  flower essences, infused medicinal oils, lip balms, and single herb extracts.  On Friday, September 20, 2013, Deb delivered a talk about “Women’s Health and Herbs” in the Herb Tent at the Common Ground Country Fair.

Deb Soule has conducted many talks on herbal medicine and biodynamic gardening.  Classes are held on a regular basis at Avena Botanicals.  In 2014, lectures are scheduled on various topics such as “Introduction to Medicinal Herbs and the Chakras,” “Resources for Natural Beekeeping,” “Alternative Building Materials and Methods,” “Health and Spirit in Food” “Biodynamics: Bringing It Down to Earth,” “Traditional Beekeeping and Hive Design,” and “Hedgerow Medicine.”

Dr. Nishi Rajakaruna of the College of the Atlantic kindly shared some thoughts with the Unique Maine Farms’ project about how he and his students have benefitted from Deb Soule’s knowledge.  He has arranged field trips with his

students to Avena Botanicals.  Chelsi Torres sent some beautiful photos, as well, that can be viewed on the webpage included in this profile.  It is quite special to note that both Deb Soule and Dr. Rajakaruna are graduates of the College of the Atlantic.

In line with her belief in the importance of passing on information to others, Deb leads Medicinal Herb Garden Walks twice a month.  She frequently writes articles on various herbs and their uses. In 1996, her book, The Woman’s Handbook of Healing Herbs: A Guide to Natural Remedies was published.  Her latest book, How to Move Like a Gardener: Planting and Preparing Medicines from Plants  is an informative and inspirational read and the over two hundred color photos are a visual delight.

Twenty-nine years have gone by since Deb Soule’s first participation in the Common Ground Country Fair in Windsor.  The amount of herbal products that she now offers has dramatically increased.  In the twenty-nine years she has reached out to learn from herbalists throughout the world.  Countless individuals have turned to her for medical advice and assistance in preventing illness. If you have the opportunity to watch her interaction with visitors to her Fair booth or her gardens or her shop, you would observe a woman who is intensely focused, compassionate, patient, and knowledgeable.  There is a humility and calmness in her approach.  Her vast knowledge and experience with plants is quite amazing.  For those who missed her Keynote Address at the 2013 Common Ground Fair, thanks to MOFGA, it can be read on their website and also viewed on youtube.