Featured Member Story: Earthly Remedies
A Maker’s Tale
The old adage “necessity is the mother of invention” rings true for Pure Catskills member Erin Ethier, owner of Earthly Remedies by Erin. Her desire to take control of her own health and the health of her family inspired the Catskills native to grow vegetables and herbs using organic methods. She fashions all-natural skin products inspired from products out of her own gardens.
“I started playing with herbs when I was a freshman in college (SUNY Delhi),” says Erin.
Erin, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) 12 years ago, credits herbs with helping her control her mood and general well-being. She began making ointments to control any skin conditions that she had “instead of products from the store that were filled with nasty chemicals.”
The real inspiration for Erin’s business came when the younger of her two sons was dealing with allergies and extremely sensitive skin. When he was about four, “he started to tell me that the (conventional) lotions and soaps burned his skin, and he would cry and try to rub it off.” Erin recalls. So she began making her own skin products for her son. “He refused to use anything on his skin unless I made it,” Erin says.
It was then that Earthly Remedies was truly born and Erin began selling her skin remedies outside the home. “It was really my family encouraging me to sell that took it to that next step,” she says.
Erin makes hand salves, hand creams, baby products, pet products, wool dryer balls (made with local wool) in small batches out of her home in Richmondville, a small village east of Oneonta and west of Albany. Many of her products are made with beeswax (mostly her own), shea butter, organic cocoa butter, organic essential oils and the herbs that she grows herself. She is dedicated to providing products that are 100 percent natural and chemical-free. Her products do not contain petroleum, preservatives, parabens, GMOs, synthetic fragrances or stabilizers.
Erin’s commitment to the land is evident in her growing practices. “I know exactly what I put into my soil,” she says. “Everything I do is done organically or without spray. I do a lot of handpicking. I decide what is planted and where it goes. I am able to keep chemicals out of our waterways and the soil. It also allows me to educate others to do the same.”
She keeps bees, plants herbs and vegetables, and raises chickens for eggs at both her home and her parents’ property in nearby Schoharie, where she grew up. Her dad, who is retired, often helps with the planting and harvesting. Erin is primarily self-taught with a little help from her mom who was a plant science major . “When it came to learning about the growing aspect of herbs and vegetables I learned a lot from her,” Erin says. “What I didn’t learn from her came from books and lots of research.”
Although Erin’s business is entirely a family affair, she leans on the community of farmers and growers around her.
“We are all in it together, and what is nice is that what one doesn’t produce, the other does,” she says. “I sell bug spray to my farmer friend and we buy her chicken. I am vegetarian, but I have two growing boys that don’t want to be – so we are trying to teach them about sustainability and the importance of knowing your farmer. Everyone is a bit different and has their niche.”
Erin acquired beekeeping knowledge thanks to hours of reading as well as chats with like-minded Catskills-based apiarists. “I’ve been fortunate enough to come across some other bee-keepers, and so when I have questions I am able to go to them,” she says.
If you would like to meet Erin in person, check out the upcoming events page of her website. You can purchase her products at The Gade Farm in Altamont, Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, Niskayuna Co-op in Schenectady, Stamford Farmers Cooperative, Roxbury General, The Conglomerate in Middleburgh and on her website – www.earthlyremediesbyerin.com