Story and photos by Heather Short
Nestled quietly just beyond the Cumberland River is a market full of nourishing, local foods to enrich the body. The Tree of Life Center
offers the Clarksville community a variety of certified fair trade items as well as multiple non-GMO products, with the highest preference going to local organic producers.
The Tree of Life Center is so much more than a healthy food store; it’s a one-stop shop to heal your body, mind and soul. The difference is apparent when you first walk in the doors.
Army veteran and mother of two Yvonne Chamberlain founded the Tree of Life Center in 2014. With a history of being an EMT and experience as a flight medic in the Army, Chamberlain’s passion has always revolved around the wellbeing of people. It was her vision to bring the community together in a central location through the motto, “Wellness is the new lifestyle.” She felt she had to start somewhere and that is where the Tree of Life Center was brought to life.
We are at war with others, with ourselves, and we may be hurting in some way,” Chamberlain said. “We have to start with detoxifying, eating well, changing our behavior and our beliefs.”
Keeping yourself healthy, Chamberlain asserts, begins with excellent sources of nutrition, by consuming foods free from GMO’s, pesticides and chemicals.
After being welcomed through the front doors by employees who are genuinely happy to see you, customers will see fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. All produce is locally sourced within 50 miles. You can also find fresh, local cuts of grass-fed beef, pork, fish, local honey and eggs.
The market also offers household and personal care products, such as body soaps, essential oils, pet supplies and even beard oils. If by chance you don’t see something you’re looking for, just ask. Many items can be purchased by the case at a discounted rate. Chamberlain says, direct customer feedback plays a large role in determining what goes on the shelves.
The Tree of Life Center initially began as an idea to bring a bakery and café to the community. Chamberlain envisioned the café filled with people talking about everyday topics while they enjoyed local coffee or juice and baked goods. The market side of the Tree of Life Center came to fruition first, but Chamberlain says the café is not too far behind. The additional spaces in the Tree of Life Center are available to rent daily, weekly or short-term.
“It is a place where someone can rent a commercial location to get their business started by building clientele,” Chamberlain said.
Currently, local residents can enjoy yoga classes at the Tree of Life Center on Thursday evenings. Classes are $7 and students must bring their own mats, props and towels. Chamberlain foresees the rooms filled with entrepreneurs offering inexpensive natural, holistic services, such as life coaching, health coaching and post-traumatic stress disorder therapy.
Another unique aspect of the Tree of Life Center is the full-size kitchen inside the market that is used for hands-on cooking classes. The Wounded Warrior Project also hosts nutrition classes as part of family support therapy. During these classes, guests learn how to prepare meals that aren’t just easy to make but healthy, full of flavor and fun to create.
Chamberlain hopes to bring in additional groups in the future as well as host school field trips at the market to teach students the importance of eating healthy.
“We should raise our kids with a better start,” Chamberlain said. “Things are changing direction in our culture as a nation.”
Like many others, Chamberlain feels that the more a community is vested in wellness, the better we feel and the better we live together.