With Councilmember Kevin McKeown on hand to help cut the “green ribbon,” the 2300 block of Main Street was officially opened as Santa Monica’s “Green Light District.”
It doesn’t have a green neon sign yet, but the District is appropriately located across the street from the Community Gardens. It comprises four local businesses: Herb King Farmacy, Tao Healing Arts Center, Beauty and Wisdom and Euphoria Loves RAWvolution.
JoAnna LaForce, a registered pharmacist and herbalist, is the general manager and co-owner of the Farmacy in West Hollywood. She took over ownership of the former Herb King store in March of this year.
“We’re applying with the City of Santa Monica to be a Certified Green Business,” LaForce told the Mirror. “That means using environmental products (99 percent of our products are certified organic) and doing things for the environment. We’ll be working together to be sure we’re environmentally and healthfully helping our neighbors.”
In addition to Herb King Farmacy, LaForce’s company operates stores in West Hollywood and Westwood, and will be opening another branch on Abbot Kinney in Venice later this month.
“Our mission is to provide global organic herbal medicine to local people,” said LaForce. Herb King now stocks, in addition to the traditional Chinese medical herbs, an array of Western herbs and herbs from the ocean, as well as medicines especially for children.
There are also what LaForce calls “FriendlyCeuticals,” herb-enhanced pastries, gelatos and lollipops. They’re sweetened with agave, a sugarless flavoring made from cactus. Some of these treats require a physician’s certificate as they contain medical cannabis. LaForce pointed out that while the Herb King Farmacy does offer medical cannabis as “one of our alternative options, it’s not our main focus. But we feel that people should have safe access that need it, only by doctor’s recommendation.”
On display at the Farmacy’s September 5 opening were intriguing-looking roots, pods and bundles of grass-like substances. Employee Eric Baumgartner, the store’s “herbal shaman,” explained the values of some of these herbs. The red pods, he said, were “Goji berries, a Chinese medicine, used for longevity and fertility.” A bundle of brownish grass was “red ginseng – good for cleaning out the system.” And rolls of cinnamon bark were “good for the kidneys.”
Two doors down, the Tao Healing Arts Center provides massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic medical services, nutritional counseling and homeopathy. It is also the center of the Shiatsu Massage School of California, with classes in massage therapy, Kundalini Yoga, Pilates and Qi Gong and Dao Yin. Co-owner Christian Pezza said he was happy to be part of the Green Light District because “we care about the health of people and the environment – it helps our society to support each individual.”
The raw food restaurant Euphoria Loves RAWvolution and the natural beauty spa Beauty and Wisdom are both owned by Janabai. She explained that the name for the restaurant came about when she and her husband fell in love (“His business was called RAWvolution and I was Euphoria.”) Euphoria Loves RAWvolution opened in the spring of 2006 and serves up raw organic food and food products, while Beauty and Wisdom opened this past spring and offers classes in meditation and spiritual Reiki healing, as well as natural beauty products.
During the opening party, McKeown commented that he’s been trying to get the City of Santa Monica to do something like the Green Light District for years. Now that it’s finally on its way, he observed: “I’ve traveled a lot, and in no other city is there a concentration of environmental and healthy lifestyle businesses in one place.”