Nora Vallon-Burgos

Soon-to-be owner, Jean’s Greens Center for Holistic Health and Wellness

What got you involved the health and wellness industry?

It all started when I became a nurse. My interest in alternative approaches came from watching my mother struggle with a genetic condition that was treated traditionally. When I was diagnosed with the same genetic condition, I experimented with the impact of nutrition and other modalities on this condition. This started me on my journey into alternative approaches to health.

I’m also an energy practitioner, so not only do I look at plant-based alternatives, but I also look at a person’s energy system. When your energy system is out of balance, the body is not able to heal as quickly. It’s about the whole mind-body-spirit connection, which tends not to be addressed in the traditional medical approach. As a nurse, I see the other side of people being placed on medication and finding no relief.

We haven’t heard the term “energy practitioner” before. What is it?

There are so many different energy modalities that I’ve just lumped it into “energy practitioner.” I’m a Reiki-attuned healing touch practitioner, and I completed an Eden Energy Medicine Practitionership. I’m trained in the emotion code and body code, so it’s just easier to refer to myself as an energy practitioner.

We will have people come into the shop and ask if we have an herb or something for an issue that they’re having, and I might say, “Have you thought about if this is an energetic issue?” Sometimes, the energy has been disrupted and you need to reestablish that energetic flow.

The emotion code identifies trapped emotions that might have accumulated over the course of a lifetime. Those emotions, if not dealt with, can manifest in a physical way. It’s about peeling away at the layers of the onion and getting rid of the trapped emotions that then manifest as physical symptoms.

How did you learn about the health benefits of herbal teas, spices and oils?

I started going to Jean’s Greens about 15 years ago. I’d do my research and then I’d see if they had what I needed and I’d purchase it from the business. It’s been something over time that I’ve educated myself on. Every time there was a health diagnosis, I always looked for an alternative approach and didn’t go with the traditional medical suggestion. I have a good friend who jokingly refers to me as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

What are your favorite products at Jean’s Greens?

It’s hard to say. There are so many! I like that if I’m having an issue, I can call Holly and say, “I’m experiencing this, what should I take for it?” And she usually has something she can mix up. My asthma kicked in this week, so she called one of her herbalists’ colleagues and came up with a combination of extracts and whipped it together for me. Holly is very connected, having been involved in the business for over 20 years. She’ll call the herbalists and say, “This is going on, what do you think?” It’s very cool.

Tell us about your customer base.

Most of our sales are online. We have people ordering from all over the state and all over the country. We were just shipping things yesterday to Canada.

We are listed in herbal books as a place to purchase herbs, especially if you’re a student taking a class on herbalism. Not too many places will package up an ounce of an herb, and as a student, they don’t want to purchase a pound of everything because it would become too costly. Also, herbal practitioners and other members of the herbal community regularly recommend us. We sell our teas to several co-ops, locally and further north, and we have many Amish customers as well.

You worked at Jean’s Greens for two years before deciding to purchase it. What inspired you to become a small business owner?

You’d think at age 66, I’d want to just kick up my feet and retire, but I feel like I’m being called to do this — to educate people around chronic illness and the impact of stress on health. My goal is to introduce communities to alternative approaches to achieving health through stress reduction and mindfulness-based workshops.

I had made an offer to Holly years ago when I first learned she was interested in selling. She had a couple of offers at the time. Then, a couple years ago, she called me and asked if I wanted to come work because one of her employees was leaving. And I thought that was the perfect opportunity to see if I wanted to go through with buying the business. It was like the universe was putting things in place.

What plans do you have to make the business your own?

I would like to move the business closer to the Albany area. Accessibility is important to me, so my ideal location would be on a bus route. I’m also looking for a place where I can hold classes — we don’t have that space right now. I want to have herbalism classes and product-making classes, because we carry a lot of DIY supplies.

Right now it’s mostly herbalism, but I want to expand to other things like energy. That’s why I’ve changed the name from Jean’s Greens Herbal Tea Works & Herbal Essentials to Jean’s Greens Center for Holistic Health and Wellness. I’d like to run support groups and to teach people about the impact of trauma and life experiences on their health. My hope is to help people who have chronic issues.

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout this process?

I don’t know yet. I’m still in the midst of that. I have a friend who keeps saying, “Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was 70-something.”

Holly has put in a lot of time and energy to run this business. I know it’s going to be a team effort. I’m fortunate to have the other ladies working there, because they see my vision and they want to be a part of that. It’s not something I can do by myself, so I’m glad to have them aboard. I’m also glad that Holly is going to stay on a little bit longer, because the knowledge she has in terms of herbalism is pretty amazing. Whatever she’s able to give us, we’ll be fortunate to have her.

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