Sarah Berkman is shaking up Newport’s holistic community – in the most delicate of ways. The herbalist and aromatherapist is co-founder and owner of Gather, a holistic apothecary and tea bar located on Broadway in Newport. With nearly ten years of experience in natural medicine, Sarah offers one-on-one consultations that, she explains, conjure an “Old World-style herbalist-client relationship.” Her custom formulations for patrons are created on the spot based on symptoms and health issues.
The vocation is more of a lifestyle than a job for Sarah, who attended the California School Of Herbal Studies in Sonoma County and later apprenticed with Kathi Keville, an internationally known herbalist and aromatherapist.
When she’s not in the shop, Sarah can be found foraging for wild medicinal plants with her four-year-old daughter, Luna. All that exploring has filled Sarah, a Rhode Island native, with a great knowledge of the biodiversity of Aquidneck Island. “It’s very empowering to know these plants and how they can help us,” says the gentle spirit, who encourages people to consider treating common ailments with natural remedies before reaching for over the counter medication.
Women’s health is a particular passion. Sarah, who is also a doula, has experience treating endometriosis, postpartum depression, infertility, and other ailments associated with childbearing.
Aside from the herbal concoctions it supplies, Gather also aims to educate patrons about the natural healing and self care that was once common knowledge. To that end, the apothecary has a library and will occasionally function as a classroom and event space. (Parents can check out Children’s Tea Time – a yoga, singing, and dance class – on Sunday mornings.)
An impressive collection of reference texts (donated by Hap Morgan, an herbalist at The Green Grocer in Portsmouth) allows visitors to conduct research. In the near future, those with memberships can also borrow books to take home. Sarah is a doer and a dreamer, and other future plans also include building a free herbal clinic for the homeless.
In a city where social life centers largely around bars and restaurants, Gather facilitates a different type of atmosphere. Its social currency still trades on meeting up and and hanging out, but instead of cocktails, it markets a more wholesome experience. If you’re tired of explaining that your “vodka soda” is just seltzer, this may be the place for you.
Whether your allergies have your full attention, your stomach just isn’t right, or you’re just curious, take a peek inside. Note to socialites: Saturday evenings, the tea bar is open late and will feature live music. It’s a great time to be healed and heard at Newport’s newest place to gather.
Photos by Jillian Tullgren.