March 3, 2020, is a day many Nashvillians will never forget. The night of the tornado destroyed many homes in North Nashville, East Nashville, Germantown, and surrounding areas. High Garden Tea, located on Woodland St. in East Nashville, unfortunately, did not remain untouched.
High Garden Tea is a social enterprise, founded by Leah and Joel Larabell. The mission of High Garden is to reconnect us with the plant wisdom we instinctively hold. Many became familiar with High Garden for ten years through the herbal and tea shop. The shop was an experience like no other in Nashville. You could walk in the shop and mix some of your favorite herbs and enjoy a flight of kombucha, among many other offerings. That was until the tragic tornado struck.
Leah and Joel first received news that the tornado damaged their building from their landlord. At that point, their brains would not allow them to imagine anything more than a few broken windows. However, when they arrived at the location, their eyes met the unimaginable. More than broken windows, the building had merely crumbled to pieces. If you saw the images circulating social media, you can attest that it's a scene you can't forget. Though unforgettable, it's not the thing Leah remembers most about that morning.
What she remembers most is beauty.
When Leah and Joel arrived at High Garden, at least thirty people had already beat them there. They showed up with care and love to help recover and clean up what survived the storm. That's the beauty Leah remembers! She describes, "at that moment, I think I truly learned how to love people." Leah grew up more connected to her squirrel and plant families, so it was easier for her to relate to nature than people outside of her immediate circle. However, that morning of the tornado revealed the beauty in humanity she had never seen before.
"That's the main thing I remember about that morning. That piece of my heart getting filled up." - Leah Larbell
When it crumbled, Leah and Joel knew they were not going to be able to rebuild ten years of what they grew for a long time. The tornado forced them to begin a new path. As they stepped back a little from the "business" side of things, the next path for High Garden began to be revealed.
With lots of patience and humility, Leah and Joel are slowly learning and understanding this new path for High Garden. Their goal is to make plants and herbalism more accessible to everyone. They envision a world where there's a plant person in everyone's home. They are making it happen. Today you can experience the many offerings of High Garden in many ways. Here's how:
High Garden Online Store: Via the High Garden online store, you can find a wide range of herbal infusions and teas. Their products are more than just items; they are creations that grew out of years of study. They hope that through these offerings, they can shine a light on the power and benefit within the world of plants.
High Garden’s School of RootWisdom: To dive deeper into herbalism education, you can take a deeper dive by enrolling in High Garden’s School of RootWisdom. The first year of the herbalism program is titled PlantFolk Herbalism. This program is at student capacity, but there are more programs to come, so stay connected.
Upcoming Podcast: Leah and Joel announced to us that they are working on a podcast. No official premiere date has been released yet, but I'm excited for the fact that we will literally be able to learn about herbs on our commute to work!
There's purpose in pain, and while hearing the recovery and resiliency story of Leah and Joel, it's hard to argue otherwise. Purpose isn't revealed at once; it's revealed in moments. That morning of the tornado was just the beginning of a greater purpose being revealed. Through the pain of the tornado, they could reimagine this vision and purpose of High Garden in more incredible ways.
Be sure to keep up with all the latest news and High Garden's journey by subscribing to their mail list at highgardentea.com and by following them on Instagram @highgardentea.