Meg Wethington and Eva O’Steen love plants with a special passion that extends beyond the obvious beauty that flowers and greenery provide.
Being community-minded and socially conscious gives a glimpse of just two of the traits they bring to the table for a new business that could be simply explained as flower power in dark times.
It is called Corners of Eden, which the women describe as a beautification project.
It consists of consulting and designing custom organic potted corners and small-scale gardens inside and outside of the home or office.
Wethington said the business will provide education and implementation of easily self-sustainable plant systems, emphasizing nourishment, healing, and beauty utilizing organic materials, techniques and flora native to North Carolina.
There is a bonus – an offspring not-for-profit component called Eden Elsewhere to spread the beauty and benefits of plants throughout the New Bern area.
“The business was started so that we could give back to the community by providing corners of beauty in some of the places that just really need it,” said Wethington.
The timing of the new business amid a pandemic has not been lost on the two entrepreneurs.
“It’s in the dark and difficult times that it’s hard to see the beauty in anything and we hope to change that just a little bit with the Eden Elsewhere project,” Wethington said.
She and O’Steen will use part of the profits from each installation for a pool of funds that will enable the Eden Elsewhere Projects.
They call Eden Elsewhere Project “the heart of their business,” adding that the profit and nonprofit sides have the same goals.
“We want to provide little thriving spaces where beauty, medicinal, edible, native, and other natural elements combine to form a symbiotic relationship where the feature is self-sustainable with minimal effort on the part of the owner,” Wethington said.
O’Steen explained The Eden Elsewhere Projects are special in that they will be placed in selected areas of need at no expense, along with instructions on maintenance.
“We want to gift these projects to beautify and nourish our community and be a beacon of hope in some pretty tough times,” she said.
They see endless site opportunities, including places that provide support and refuge for those suffering from troubles ranging from physical abuse to addiction.
“Beauty belongs everywhere, especially in the dark,” Wethington said.
Their plans also extend a branch into the area of events, where both women have experience and expertise.
“We will be offering kids camps and senior citizen events with educational components and take-away projects such as seed planting and paper-making and flower-pressing,” said O’Steen. “These outreach projects are really the core of what we do. The business side of Corners of Eden is what helps us get there.”
Local businesses can display Corners of Eden installations or sponsor Eden Elsewhere projects and summer camps.
“Everyone is welcome to sponsor a Plant for a Project with many available price points to choose from. Donations are welcomed and encouraged for the Eden Elsewhere projects,” she added. “We will be looking for as many grant opportunities as we are able and continue to search for funding for these projects. We are excited for what Corners of Eden and the Eden Elsewhere Project has to offer New Bern’s citizens and beyond.”
O’Steen has more than 25 years of hands-on horticultural experience. She is a certified Plant Professional and worked for 15 years on the Tryon Palace horticultural staff.
She specializes in 17th and 18th century design and served as floral designer and former contracted Christmas designer for the Palace. Her training utilizes organic and environmentally-friendly safe practices.
She has led several educational programs, lectures, and demonstrations, as well as coordinating many volunteer beautification projects.
O’Steen has served as a nursery and greenhouse manager as a grower of plants and their identification. She is also well versed in the identification of pest and organic disease control solutions.
She is well integrated into the community and regional horticultural networks, having worked with the city of New Bern through Parks and Recreation, serving as park supervisor on various local projects.
Wethington has additional future plans in the gardening genre, training to be an herbalist with her husband.
“We grow mushrooms and are heavy into fungiculture and will start a mushroom business soon,” she said. “I am in love with plants and I just love to grow things.”
She said it was an easy decision “to build a business for New Bern around something I truly loved to do.”
She is a well-known face in the New Bern community and has been instrumental in the revitalization of the downtown New Bern art scene for more than a decade.
Long known as an artist of the spoken word, Wethington was a founding member of the Nexus Poets; served as president of the Bohemian Artists of New Bern; served as a founding member of non-profit Community Artist Will – now Community Artist Gallery; was a founding member of non-profit FOLKS Journal, now FOLKS Foundation; and created the music and art event “The Saturday Sessions in Bear Plaza,” along with the popular Witches Ryde family bicycle event during Halloween.
“It’s been an honor to serve New Bern by sharing these creations with this city for over 15 years now,” Wethington said. “I hope Corners of Eden will be something else they love, too.”
Wethington was voted New Bern’s best Bartender of the Year at MJs Raw Bar and Grille for two years running. She credits that experience for enabling her to get to know New Bern and its people.
For more information, go online at cornersofeden.com or visit Corners of Eden on Facebook or Instagram.
Charlie Hall can be reached at 252-635-5667 or 252-259-7585, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook at Charlie Hall.