Health Savvy

. January 29, 2013.

Once upon a time, a “healthy” kid-friendly lunch might include a fried bologna sandwich slapped together with soft white bread served with a nice big bowl of salty soup. An afterschool
game of kickball formed the primary exercise regime.

Raising a healthy family has never been easy. It’s even harder today when memories about how grandma did it may be less than helpful. If you’d like to explore another way, you can turn to Beth Barbeau, owner of Indigo
Forest in Ann Arbor, a holistic family care center.

“The store is an ambassador for healthy living,” says Barbeau, 49, an Ann Arbor mother of two pre-teen boys. “It’s not where you go to exercise. It’s where you go to learn about health.”

Healthfully holistic

At Indigo Forest, you’ll find classes designed to teach moms and dads how to improve their families’ well being. Past courses have included everything from natural first aid to advice about running a clean non-toxic home.
Inside, you’ll discover a boutique filled with even the most hard-to-find items you’ll learn about in your classes, unique toys created by local artisans or imported from abroad, immune-boosting teas, essential oils, breastfeeding supplies and beautifully illustrated books for young and old.

Barbeau knows a thing or two about raising healthy families. She is a home birth midwife with decades of experience, and a wealth of knowledge about naturopathic healing – using diet, exercise, herbs, essential oils and other gentler approaches to living well.

However, don’t expect to see Barbeau or her employees decked out in tie-dye shirts and love beads performing yoga while making macramé planters.

“We are not hippy or groovy,” said Barbeau.

Composing a community hotspot

Babies and health have always been Barbeau’s passions. However, the things she saw moms and dads struggling with in the real world didn’t always make her happy.

Women dream and plan and worry about their child’s birth but don’t realize the twenty years that follow are the hardest to deal with, she said.

“I saw women falling through the cracks with nowhere to turn,” said Barbeau. “I’d see them after the birth at the farmers’ market and they said they didn’t know what to do. I wanted to show them how to raise their children in a more holistic healthy way.”

At Indigo Forest, you’ll find everything from magic wands and fairy wings to warm wool socks for the whole family.

“We have the first free breastfeeding support group, called the ‘Nursing Café,’ on Wednesday afternoons,” she said. “We have a community room with couches, rocking chairs and a baby scale. We wanted to be a community hot spot. Parenting is hard,” says Barbeau.

“In the middle of the night, all of us have moments that make us feel challenged,”
she says.

Barbeau knows only too well what it’s like to be a working mother.

“It’s hard to be a midwife and have a business and be a mom,” she said. “I’ve learned to be a better parent from my customers.” What’s the most important thing they’ve taught her? “You are your child’s best expert. Listen to your gut instinct over anything anyone has said,” says Barbeau. “Listen to your own common sense.”

Indigo Forest is located at 4121 Jackson Road in Ann Arbor. 734-994-8010.