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Soil to Soul
6005 Oleander Drive
(910) 920-9890
What does it mean to support a community? Does our personal well-being have a place in our role as a good eco-citizen? The two ladies of Soil to Soul seem to think so and are doing everything they can with their business to promote what Nicole Lancaster, co-owner, pleasantly calls “maximum, ultimate, vibrant wellness.”
Both Lancaster and Mary Margaret Folds began the business as a partner to Progressive Gardens, with the idea of helping others achieve pulsating personal health, and thus expanding wellness to the immediate environment and connecting relationships. “Helping people build a healthy community builds a healthy environment,” Lancaster explains.

Upon walking into Soil to Soul, it’s possible to immediately feel lighter. The room smells like a sage forest, thanks to burning essential oil candles, and the dark teal paint encloses the space, while the walls reach to the sky, exuding a comfortable, lofty ambiance. In their humble space, Lancaster and Folds have chosen to supply products that either promote local artisans or encourage sustainable concepts. Goods that can be found for sale at Soil to Soul include jewelry, organic cotton T-shirts, aromatherapy and essential oil products. They also offer a line of yoga clothing made from renewable beech wood modal textiles. Likewise, they provide space for showcasing local artists’ paintings.

The heart of Soil to Soul can be found in the weekly classes they offer in-shop. On Thursday, November 4th, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Kathryn Sisler, a local herbalist, will be teaching attendees how to make an herbal tincture to ward off winter colds and boost the immune system. Sisler, who also works with Tidal Creek, has teamed up with Soil to Soul under a business practice that Folds calls “coopetition” (not competition) to teach a series of classes tailored to her specialties. Other topics taught by Sisler in the upcoming months include fermentation, fertility and herbal teas.

On Saturday, November 6th from 11 a.m. to noon. Hydroponics 101: Indoor Gardening, will protect against future frosts. Also, on Saturday, November 13th from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Lancaster will teach a seminar on Kombucha fermentation. Kombucha tea, although speculative and untested, has been popularized for its energizing and illness-fighting powers. Soil to Soul classes also feature classes on wheatgrass juicing, composting and weekly yoga on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Classes at Soil to Soul offer an experience in sustainable personal health and living local. The business reaches out not only to citizens who need help engaging in healthy activities for the body and community but also to encourage personal responsibility. A revolutionary concept that aims to shift the focus from “big box” corporations to the everyday individual, personal responsibility calls for lifestyle change. According to Lancaster and Folds, in order to reduce a personal carbon footprint and take initiative to lead a healthy lifestyle, people should start by adopting a do-it-yourself attitude.

“Instead of always being dependent on someone to provide [or], you know, some big company to provide for you, for your wellness, for the choices that you make, [you have] to be willing to take responsibility for that,” Lancaster claims.

It seems to be a simple concept: Be healthy, feel good; feel good, interact with the local community; interact with the local community, and learn to love our surroundings, even the land; love the land, grow our own food and nourish our bodies with wholesome products; appreciate the local economy for its wholesome products and uphold Soil to Soul’s vision: “A vision to support local producers,” Folds says.

Simple on paper, perhaps, but difficult to practice. Folds and Lancaster understand the complexities of a reconnection with the environment, so they have decided to create a new business model based off community trust. All yoga classes at Soil to Soul are offered by donation only. Almost all other classes, unless the purchase of a kit or materials is necessary, are on a donation-only basis as well. In turn, when a teacher rents out space at Soil to Soul to hold a class, the business will only accept payment in the form of a donation. In every instance, “you give us what you feel to give,” Folds insists. “It’s good for college students and people who can’t afford to pay 15 dollars for a class every week.”

It’s essentially a business model reliant upon generosity. “[We are] offering things out of abundance and trusting that we’re going to be provided for as we provide things,” Lancaster says. Although there have been times when the going hasn’t always been easy, Folds and Lancaster remain unwaveringly confident that the payoff is not found in monetary gain. When donations are sparse or when renters don’t return the favor, “it keeps us humble,” Lancaster admits.

Soil to Soul exists to be a community resource, and Folds and Lancaster are open to any requests for new topics. They hope that if the lessons teach people of their options, the business will begin “growing sustainable lifestyles,” educating one life at a time until our community has reached optimal wellness.

Lancaster references a favorite quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” she says. “We really can do that. When we know, that gives us the power to choose, make healthier choices, and then that grassroots kind of an effort can change the face of everything.”

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