Inner Spaces By: Duke Raulston

Inner Spaces

Healthy Roots

By:  Duke Raulston


Health is a topic that is on everyone’s mind right now.  We are all focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, of course.  It is very important to remember that our nation was also facing rampant levels of obesity, Type Two Diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, prior to the onset of the pandemic.  Indeed, all of those issues are termed “comorbidities” and they are important factors into how well your body can deal with a COVID-19 infection.  These are not the only health related questions that our nation has been struggling with over the past few years.


We are all aware that there has been a huge national debate over the health care system for the past thirty years.  The Marion County Messenger makes every effort to avoid choosing sides or entering into political debate, and that will not change here.  However, one of the biggest discussions in that Health Care debate is the role of preventative medicine and how that might impact the lives of our citizens. In fact, we are so concerned with health and wellness that it has become a massive industry in our nation.


Who all remembers the fish oil craze?  Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) were found to help prevent heart disease.  Next thing you know everyone was buying fish oil.  How about the Atkins’ Diet? The Atkins’ Diet popular in the seventies came back around in the nineties.  It flew in the face of contemporary wisdom on weight loss and heart disease and encouraged people to lose weight on a protein based diet.  We could write a book on the health food, diet and exercise trends that have been popular since the 1970’s, but they all have one thing in common.–in the long run they have all failed.  They have failed because they focus on a single aspect of health:  diet, exercise, nutrition, a food group, etc.  


There is a better way–the Holistic approach!  The definition of Holistic is characterized by treatment of the whole person, taking into account social and mental factors rather than just looking at symptoms.  One looks at the nutrition, exercise, mental and emotional factors in helping to lead a healthier, happier life.  Healthy Roots does just that very thing! Healthy Roots is an initiative launched by the DuBose conference center.  According to DuBose:


“DuBose Conference Center is a historical, Episcopal camp, conference, and retreat center that offers       hospitality, programming, and sacred space to groups of all faiths and backgrounds for education, creativity, and renewal.”


In 2020, DuBose launched Healthy Roots to serve adults and youth in the South Cumberland Plateau, including Grundy, Franklin, and Marion Counties.  It is the aim of Healthy Roots to encourage a holistic approach to wellness.  To that end, Healthy Roots offers culinary classes that include meal planning and preparation.  These are not just kitchen classes–these are  garden to table workshops designed to get people out in their gardens learning about growing, picking, as well as preparing food.  Not only does this help people put healthy meals on the table, it also helps them to reconnect with nature.  The gardens of DuBose are not only sources of food, but sources of therapy.


Healthy Roots has many fascinating projects on their table.  One of them that leaps from the page is the “Farmacy”.  They are working with local healthcare providers who may refer patients to spend time in their gardens.  They have a wildflower garden, a monthly community wellness program, a seed library, and a Rooted in Faith Retreat among other programs.  Anneli Virkhaus, Music Therapist and DuBose Lead Gardener says, 


“Connection to our earth and growing food is important for the survival of humanity, more so now than ever.  We must take care of our planet and fellow brothers and sisters. This starts in the garden. Knowing how to grow food is empowering and gets people to be outside, move their bodies, absorb sunshine, and feel connected. I envision a future where we feed our communities with neighborhood gardens. Everyone participates and has a role. We are what we eat and it’s time to get back to being filled with life force and energy”.


The folks at Healthy Roots are extremely excited.  They are making their final preparations for “The Bounty of Good Health Wellness Retreat”.  This event will take place on July 13th through July 16th.  It will explore how participants can utilize the building blocks of “Whole Health Wellness”.  The Curriculum will explore the relationships between different aspects of health:  nutritional, physical, social, mental, spiritual and creative.  The workshop will explore farm-to-table cooking.  It will also explore other self healing practices like Yoga, and self-reflection.  The participants will also learn about creative planning and nutrition work-shopping.  The retreat is being led by Meagan Kelley.  Kelley states,


“I’m involved in Healthy Roots because I believe that to build up the people, we must first start at the table: with the security of food justice, a foundation of holistic health, a dialogue of the individual as caretaker of their well-being, and a creative empowerment of the community to carry these practices forward. In the unity of sharing a meal together, we feed the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional hunger in ourselves, and we emerge stronger in the work we are meant to do”.


The event is four days and three nights and is intended for adults from all walks of life.  The DuBose Conference Center will provide hotel-style lodging, all meals, programming instruction, and activities.  Full scholarships, subsidized by the South Cumberland Community Fund, are available to Grundy, Franklin, and Marion County residents who would not otherwise be able to attend the retreat.


Visit for more information, packing list, special COVID-19 information and other details.

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