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Juniper Ridge Wild Goods

By Jesse Kornbluth
Published: Jan 01, 2004
Category: Home


Juniper Ridge Western Wild Goods

Every few summers, it seems important for the Butlers  to head out to Wyoming — no, not Jackson Hole — for a week at a dude ranch. It’s not the riding, though that is sublime. It’s not the hiking, though it is bracing to walk a path so remote you’ll see no one coming up or down. It’s the air. It’s…the smells.

There’s no way to talk about this without sounding like a soap commercial, so I’ll stop those metaphors before I embarrass myself.

In fact, I would not be writing about any of this if I hadn’t received a package recently from a woman I admire greatly. “Business is divine activity,” Emerson says, and that’s the way she does business — with as much care for people and the planet as for profit. Her priorities delight me; I love seeing her do well. And she, as a planetary citizen, loves to see others do well.

Which was her point in writing — she wanted to introduce her friends to Hall Newbegin, founder of Juniper Ridge Western Wild Goods. And what better way than to send along a few of his products: soaps, teas, sachets.

Hall is based in Berkeley , but you get the sense that he spends as much time in the California desert and mountains as he can. His business is small: Hall and his brother-in-law. They make most of their stuff themselves. And they donate 10% of their profits to groups that fight for the wilderness.

The Butlers have sampled the merchandise. It is as pure as advertised. It makes us feel connected to ideas like “sustainable” and “integrity” and “quality” when we drink the tea or use the soap, or whatever. We also get a different sense of time — no instant teas, no magic infusions — and, though this is an odd word to use about natural products, which are often rough-hewn and kitschy, Juniper Ridge stuffs gives us a heightened connection to beauty. Simple beauty, that is. Real beauty.

The website is quite complete, but there’s a little more writing in the catalogue, so you might ask for one. As for what to buy, you could start at Juniper Ridge Western Wild Goods  and roll through the categories. Or jump to the  Gift Packs . (But yikes — there are eight to choose from! Better to sit down on a quiet evening and spend a pleasant Hallf hour on the site.)

It’s holiday season as I write. If I were going to pick one standout item, I’d push this on you: the Sangre de Cristo Sagebrush Wreath . It’s dry and grey/white as the desert, and not a pine cone or ribbon in sight. I find it gorgeous. And I can only imagine the smell.

But there’s so much more. Here are some other favorites:

Gift Pack of 4 Wild Herb Soaps  – I’ve been working my way though these over the last few weeks, and I’m finding the scents a refreshing change from soaps laden with cold creams and chemicals.

Douglas Fir Spring Tip Tea  – As you go through life, things start tasting like variations of other things. This is a New Event.

Cold and Flu Wild Herb Tinctures – Read this description of Lomatium (from the catalogue): “It may make you feel worse at first, because as your immune system picks up the pace, your symptoms, which are caused by immune system activity, become similarly worse. But wouldn’t you rather feel worse for a short amount of time and just get it over with than let it drag on endlessly?” Hey, it’s your health, and not to be trifled with — but don’t you kinda feel you can trust this guy?

I knew I was getting goofy when I started wondering what I could do with Giant Pine Cones , so I stopped.

You might go overboard too. But don’t worry — your family and friends will thank you.

To order from Juniper Ridge, click here.