In the far Northeastern reaches of Oregon, tucked quietly away beneath a mountain range and a lake cut away by ancient glaciers, a family run herbal business calls this remote landscape home. Wild Carrot Herbals has been making its high quality herbal goodies for 14 years and just recently transitioned from their Salem area home base to the wild side of the state, settling in Enterprise, Oregon.
Jody Berry is the founder and creator of Wild Carrot’s well-loved blends and runs the business with her family and seven employees. Jody welcomed Mountain Rose Herbs to visit and take a tour behind the scenes of her small herbal business.
On a very brisk October, we made the beautiful drive through canyons and golden farm lands to the base of the Wallowa Mountains just south of Joseph, Oregon and Wallowa Lake. We took Main Street and drove down the wide road used long ago by horse drawn carriages. Enterprise held the quiet calm of a small town with wonderful historic buildings and quaint shops. Wild Carrot Herbals is operated in one of these old historic buildings with large windows that open to a lovely retail front. Upon walking in, we were welcomed by a symphony of herbal aromas that blended into one earthy scent of goodness.
We were immediately greeted by Jody and her kind staff, who offered us homemade apple cider in cute owl mugs. The building was long and narrow and Wild Carrot’s space appeared to be two connected sides with a large bay door allowing access between them. One half of the building houses their retail front, selling a mixture of Wild Carrot products, and the other half displays local and homemade products with herbal and nature themes. Directly behind the retail front is their packing and shipping area where every order is carefully hand-packed, labeled, and shipped out.
However, the magic happens just across the bay door threshold in the kitchen. Filling the entire length of the narrow building, the kitchen is where the herbal concoctions are made and ingredients are stored for future use. Michael, Jody’s husband, was in the middle of pressing out Echinacea purpurea herbal oil from the organic Echinacea we offer at Mountain Rose Herbs. The incredible emerald green color of the oil was mesmerizing and gorgeous.
In the corner of the room stood several shelves lined with gallon sized jars of botanical oils. Upon our happy exclamations at the sight of them, Jody proudly announced that they make 40 different botanical oils for all of their products. Wild Carrot produces 100 different products and according to Jody she is always coming up with new and exciting additions including a new deodorant and facial cleanser recipe currently in the works.
“I started with just three products: Gaia Goo, Lord My Hands Are So Dry, and Vanilla Bean Skin,” Jody told us. These are still some of her top sellers today.
Near the end of the room, a large metal table held rows of glass jars containing the popular Herbal Chest Rub ready for filling, cooling, and labeling. This product is very popular during the winter months and keeping up on the inventory is crucial for their customers in need.
I asked Jody about her background and what guided her to become the owner of an herbal company. She said it was due to her love affair with plants. Self-taught, Jody had lived alone in the woods for five years off the grid and began her relationship with plants through direct contact. “Sit with plants long enough they tell you their medicine.”
Wild Carrot Herbals believes it is important to source quality and organic ingredients whenever possible, which is why it’s exciting to know that a few of their botanicals are wild harvested. A handful of Eastern Oregon plants are harvested during the year including: St. John’s wort, Yarrow, Cottonwood buds, Arnica, and Elderberries. Jody pulled out one of the jars of Cottonwood bud oil for us to smell. The color was deep and almost blood red. That’s a unique quality in the region when compared to oil made from Northwest buds. Being an Eastern Oregonian native myself, I feel a special connection to the medicinal plants that grow there.
Two years ago, Jody and her family decided to move the business out of her Salem area home to a smaller location that wasn’t surrounded by agri-business. Enterprise, Oregon became the winner due to its beautiful landscape. Jody said that it has been in her “heart for a good solid 30 years if not more,” since she spent most of her childhood visiting the region. Jody is very happy that the community has been so welcoming to their business including elder citizens coming into the shop to talk about how they grew up using plants.
Jody hopes growth will allow her to offer more benefits to her employees, keep the business sustainable, and to increase organic production in the valley to help further the organic industry. Mountain Rose Herbs is happy to be able to support her business and we appreciate our current and growing relationship to bring herbs to the people.
You can find a selection of products from Wild Carrot Herbals on our website!
Anna Bradley is our Domestic Farms Representative and is a member of our Green Team! In her spare time she is an herbalist, a teacher of nature connection and primitive skills to children and adults, and a singer/songwriter. Anna is a student of Columbine’s School of Botanical Studies and co-founder of Whole Earth Nature School.