Jody Berry of Wild Carrot Herbals brought her family and her business to Wallowa County from the Willamette Valley this summer. The transplanted skin care company has hired two people to help mix, bottle and ship more than 100 products. KATY NESBITT - The Observer
Wild Carrot Herbals moves its operation from Western Oregon to Enterprise
Booming cannons sent Wild Carrot Herbals running for the hills from a farm in the lush, green Willamette Valley.
Far from the thunder of propane cannons used by grass seed farmers to scare off geese, Jody, Michael and Ginger Berry are happily mixing natural skin care concoctions in the basement of the Wallowa Resources Stewardship Center in Enterprise.
Jody Berry said at their farm west of Salem they made their lotions, balms, and salves in a yurt next to their ancient farmhouse. She thought she’d miss being closer to the elements working in a building, but she doesn’t miss the cannons. Light streams into their new work space and their five year-old is in Kindergarten just a few blocks away. Berry said they are liking their new digs.
The Berrys and their two employees work in ample space downstairs from offices that support the county’s farmers and ranchers — a well-lit basement with a kitchen, storage space for more than 100 products, and a shipping room where each item is lovingly tucked into a smart looking, brown, cardboard container with matching packing material.
Wild Carrot’s kitchen has a six-burner stove and a row of brightly-colored, standard-sized KitchenAid mixers — simple processes for luxurious skin care.
“It was tenuous moving into an industrial space from the yurt where I could infuse the sound of the wind and the birds into the products, but I’m finding we can still infuse that. Everything is still handmade and that comes from a lot of intention,” said Berry.
The new work space is only temporary. When the residents of the Wallowa Valley Care Center moves to the residential care facility next to Wallowa Memorial Hospital, Wild Carrot will move upstairs into the commercial kitchen — an ideal space for mixing lavender and rose essential oils into lip balm and hand lotion.
Besides the draw of the county’s wild beauty, a practical aspect of moving to Enterprise from Rickreall was that the shipping prices are exactly the same, said Berry.
After graduating from Evergreen State College in Olympia in the 1990s, Berry said she lived on an organic farm in Onalaska with no electricity or running water. Yet she wasn’t without luxuries. Next to the yurt in which she lived there was a sauna, a creek and what she called a primitive hot tub.
“It was awesome and simple,” said Berry.
With few distractions, Berry said she read books on making skin care products and fell in love.
After the Utopian world of organic farming, Berry said she and her husband took what she called “corporate” jobs in Seattle. She sold copiers and cried on her way to work every day — but the years of conventional, city work eventually afforded them a place to grow herbs and flowers and start their own farm and skin care business.
The corporate world taught Berry skills she uses in her own business — how to make labels, work with computers, and talk to the public. These, mixed with growing crops and working with her hands makes a nice balance.
“I get to be creative and I don’t want to work for anyone else,” said Berry.
When the Berrys could take no more of the cannons, they made a list and explored Oregon for their next home. Jody had worked as a river guide 25 years ago on the Grande Ronde so Wallowa County was on a list that included the desert of Southeast Oregon and the hills of the southwestern part of the state.
They settled on Enterprise and set up shop in the late summer. Walking distance from the office to home, they have room to grow herbs and flowers outside of their house, in their neighbors yard, and are looking for another plot.
What they don’t grow themselves, like honey and beeswax, Berry said they access from producers around Oregon with whom they have developed relationships over the years.
“We like to support people we know,” said Berry.
More exotic products, like argan nut from Morocco, is bought from Barber women through a certified organic/fair product source.
“It’s a really fun business and it’s really sweet to move to a place that’s been in my heart for a long time and where we can make a difference.”