When Desirae Miller worked at Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center, she would pass by the storefront along Fourth E. St. next to Legends Barber Shop every day on her walk to work. The space used to be the home of Wild Bloom Fermentations, a kombucha shop, but when the owners moved to a new location in 2021, Miller found herself dreaming about the possibility of renting the space herself: she wanted to open an apothecary.
“I really enjoy doing community-based work,” Miller said. “When I was at Seekhaven, I loved working with the community in that way: being a presence in the community and doing my best to give as much as I’m taking. That really opened my eyes to a much larger vision that I’ve always wanted for my life and for our community as a whole—I think there was just something about the middle of the pandemic that was like, why don’t I jump off this cliff, and just do it?”
The Adobe Garden Apothecary opened in July 2021, mere weeks after Miller decided to take the leap and lease the space. It came together in a whirlwind, she said, and now, a year and a half later, the apothecary is undergoing a new change.
The apothecary has always been a welcoming, safe place, but Miller said she wants to do more with it. She’s turning the shop from what started as mostly a bulk spices, herb, and tea storefront into what she hopes will be a community centerpiece: a place for people to drink tea made by Miller, snack on healthy treats, and shop hand-made goods.
“I’ve always tried to have very thought-out, hand-made pieces in our retail space,” Miller said. “I really honored that side of the shop, but it isn’t always that welcoming to hang out in, because it is just a retail space. And I always wanted more from that.”
This summer, Miller said, people started gravitating toward the apothecary courtyard, which Miller enhanced with picnic tables, blooming plants, and the Moab Pride Library. She also participated in Arts & Ag, the biweekly farmers market, selling retail goods like loose-leaf tea blends, but also ready-made items like mango arnold palmers, lavender milk chocolate cookies, and strawberry lavender rose lemonade. Miller has always used the apothecary to sell her custom, handmade tea blends, but over the summer, she experimented more with baked goods and to-go drinks, and found that people loved them.
“That really did push and allow me to be like, ‘okay, this is wanted, and this is needed in town,’” she said.
Miller has always been drawn to herbalism. Even as a child growing up in a city she was drawn to plants and apothecaries: “preservation of Earth’s offerings has always been a passion of mine,” she said.
“My family was like, ‘where did this child come from?’” Miller said. Her herbalism education comes from all over: she’s read books, taken classes, experimented with new tea blends on herself and friends and family. There’s always going to be more to learn, she said.
The new space will revolve more around that herbalism expertise. Miller imagines the space acting a bit more like a tea shop, allowing her to create custom blends for people or brew up a cup of tea for anyone who needs it. She doesn’t rely on recipes to create tea blends, rather, she finds herself inspired by what people who come into the shop ask for: While she makes custom brews for individuals, she’ll also create bulk loose-leaf teas to sell. In November, she created the “Coconut Mama” tea blend by mixing herbs including roasted dandelion root, rose petals, toasted coconut flakes, chaga mushroom, and cardamom; she also made a “Jamaica Chai Blend” with black tea leaves, hibiscus, cardamom, ginger, and honey granules.
“I’m terrible at recording recipes,” Miller said, “and I think that’s why with all my tea blends, I’m always creating new ones—I’m never sticking to one recipe, but I do want to get better at that … My blends are very much based on taste and intuition.”
The storefront is currently undergoing renovations, and Miller said she’s planning on closing for a few weeks in January to finish up construction. But after that, she said, the space will have a new kitchen area and more room to hang out inside. She’s also planning on hosting more events, like the holiday pop-up market on Dec. 1, and hosting a few herbalism workshops.
“I do feel like Adobe Garden, in what it can offer, is really unique,” Miller said. “[It’s a] neighborhood tea shop, where you can come sit down in the courtyard or inside that’s away from the hustle and bustle … we’re tucked away in our own little oasis, and I really want to keep up that neighborhood community vibe.”