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Harvesting rosehips in Central Otago.
Photo by Wild Dispensary

Wild Herbs in our Backyard

Suzanne Middleton, Wild Dunedin —

With the knowledge that medicine is all around us, Wild Dispensary harvests wild herbs and native plants and creates tonics, elixirs, a spray and even a switchel. Ruth Vaughan of Wild Dispensary loves how our backyard provides an abundance of plants to help us stay healthy.

Wild Dispensary harvests local wild herbs and native plants and turns them into various tonics and remedies using the expertise of medical herbalist and naturopath Skye Macfarlane. 

The Wild Dispensary team. — Image by: Guy Frederick

The harvesting year goes like this. They harvest St John’s Wort in Central Otago in January, Elderberry in February and March, Rosehip in April, Thyme, Horehound and Californian Poppy in December, and Horopito, Mānuka and Kānuka all year round.

Wild Dispensary talking about some of the wild plants they harvest. — Image by: Wild Dispensary

As Ruth explains

"Our point of difference is our signature of wild harvest, mostly New Zealand natives, prioritising organic and local growers and a light footprint. As a Dunedin business we really want to link in with Dunedin growers, and we have a responsibility to do our best environmentally. We do waste reviews and a big thing has been the label backing. It’s those things you never think about."

Wild Dispensary’s packaging is 100% plastic free and recyclable and it includes a paper alternative to bubble wrap. The products all come in glass and all their Dunedin suppliers and some South Island ones will return the bottles.

And what’s a switchel? 

It used to be called ‘haymakers’ punch’, a hydrating and energising beverage taken after a hard day’s work. Wild Dispensary have created their own take on an old recipe.

Wild Dispensary for our festival in April 2021 will be running a Backyard Medicine Kit session.