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Raven Wood Gardens Reports Successful Caregiver Retreat Weekend

Issue Date: June 23, 2022

Alex Bournonville

Raven Wood Gardens held their first annual two-day Caregiver Retreat on Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18, 2022.

Owner and founder, Lou Anne Bates, hosted a small group of community members and local business owners at the gardens. Military veterans Amanda Brissette and Bethany Raber demonstrated how to start a fire with kindling, dryer lint, a knife and flint and steel. After successfully lighting a small flame, all attendees continued to light their own fire with flint and steel as well. As a sweet treat, there was a s'mores making station with strawberries and fixings to dip it in. The end of Friday was spent singing karaoke, dancing with light-up wings and visiting with community members.

The headquarters of Saturday's events was the scenic outdoor kitchen surrounded by planted herbs. Bates welcomed the approximately 60 participants to the retreat with a gift bag filled to the brim with free goodies and local business literature. Included was a therapeutic veterans' wallet kit, seeds, lanyards, beer koozies, and much more.

Vendors had booths set up right next to the second greenhouse. Princess Bjorkman and Dr. Ryan Krog represented The Wellness Way and had several of the natural supplements they prescribe to patients available to sample. Brittany Mans of Sage Gardens sold handmade jewelry, dried herbs and flowers for tea, bath salts and body oils. Stacey Hull from 35th and Coffee provided coffee with Chagaccino which is a mushroom that naturally supports the immune system and is sugar-free. Amy from Lume in Escanaba provided educational materials on cannabis products and samples of topical CBD lotions (none for sale).

The first speaker was Christine Pada, a practitioner of Laughter Yoga. Pada is a certified counselor with multiple degrees in psychology and counseling. She explained that the beginnings of Laughter Yoga started in the early 1990's with people telling jokes to an audience, which didn't last long because they eventually ran out of material. Pada instead encourages people to laugh at nothing. There are numerous health benefits to laughing for a 10-15 minute period daily. The act releases serotonin and dopamine in the brain, tricking you into being in a good mood so she encourages laughing at unfortunate situations instead of becoming angry or sad.

After, Dr. Ryan Krog gave an informational presentation on his practice The Wellness Way. "Inflammation underlies 95% of all chronic diseases regardless of symptoms or diagnosis," Krog says. Inflammation is caused by toxins, trauma and thoughts (the three T's). From the harmful chemicals we intake daily to the physical injuries we sustain and the negative thoughts we think, the body is often receiving harm that isn't being paid any attention. Krog explained that medical doctors will diagnose you and try to keep the problem from worsening while a wellness doctor will go straight to the root cause and create a long term plan to heal the whole body from there. They determine how to treat patients by testing minor food allergies that don't cause anaphylactic shock, but rather GI tract problems.

The first workshop began with Carrie Jo Martin from CJ's Glass giving a tutorial on how to make a small lotus shaped mosaic. All participants enthusiastically completed their project with ease.

Lunch was served by Chelsea Alyn, owner of the Halfway Bar and Grill. The choice of grilled chicken, salmon or marinated tofu was given along with a side of rice and a fresh picked salad. All salad ingredients were picked that day from Bates's own garden.

After lunch, Penny Mullins of Penny's Plants & Pots showed a group how to plant and take care of a succulent. One of the easier plants to take care of, succulents don't require water daily. A variety of echeverias, peperomias, and others were provided.

Lume Store Manager Amy Conner represented her Escanaba Cannabis store. She was invited to dispel the stigma around marijuana. Lume is a store that serves 21+ year old adults and medical card holders cannabis. This is where patients prescribed medical marijuana will pick up their prescription. All sales are tracked by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA). Additionally, she explains that the cannabis plant has different parts which create different substances. THC is the psychoactive chemical compound, or cannabinoid, commonly associated with the "high" that marijuana is known for, coming from the flower. CBD is the cannabinoid also from the plant that can be derived from the flower, leaves or stalk, but has no psychoactive agent. Marijuana is commonly used by veterans and sufferers of chronic pain due to its effects that can calm anxiety, stop night terrors and sustain a good night's sleep.

Veteran's spouse Sandy Wolf explained how to make lotion bars from scratch. With a recipe using beeswax, vitamin E oil, shea butter and more the lotion is easy to make and good for your skin.

Brittany Mans of Sage Gardens also gave a presentation on how to make your own tea! Dried herbs and flowers put into a tea bag and steeped in hot water can transfer healthy, helpful nutrients.

The final presentation was given by Bates herself. She spoke about the benefits of incense making and burning. The creation of incense blends together natural ingredients into a form that can be slowly burned and emits a comforting smell in the smoke.

A survey was given out to every attendee about what their favorite workshop, speaker, garden and memory was from the retreat. Prizes were given out to those whose survey was pulled by random. George Anderson won a case of NOOMA's coconut energy drink, Kim Fornier won a pack of resistance bands for exercise, Matha Anderson won a Raven Wood Gardens t-shirt, Princess Bjorkman won a lume bag with freebies inside and Alex Bournonville won Arbonne AgeWell skin care and eyeshadow palette.

Some vendors and speakers were unable to make it to the event at the last minute causing some organizational mishaps, but still Raven Wood Gardens pulled it off. Oscar G. Johnson Hospital employee Dr. Haven Bain wasn't able to speak as well as Jaime Parrett from Exercise in Movement. Bates is planning two to three more events for the public during the rest of the year. She also reminds people that they are open to host weddings, photo shoots and other events and looks forward to doing the Caregiver Retreat once again next year.


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