The exuberant and resourceful Wendy Mackenzie grew up in the green hills of Vermont, surrounded by her mother’s gardens. Yet, it wasn’t until the mid-’90s that she developed a fascination with herbalism and plants. At the time, she was a high school health teacher in Wilmington, VT, and invited a local herbalist, Isabelle Hadley, to do a presentation for her students. When Wendy got her hands on the dried flowers and essential oils, she was hooked. “This was back when I didn’t know a daisy from a daffodil,” she said, but the seed was planted, and eventually, it blossomed into Meadowscape Botanicals.
In 1998, Wendy moved with her husband, Matthew, and kids to a special property in Peacham, VT. The previous resident, Jane Hatfield, had planted beautiful perennial gardens during her thirty-plus years there. These gardens changed the course of Wendy’s life. Taking care of Jane’s flowers pushed Wendy to learn the art of stewarding this three-acre plot of land, and her interest and care expanded along with her knowledge.
After residing there for almost 25 years, Wendy describes the property as a jungle. It’s not so much a garden as an untamed meadow, which means it’s also a haven for pollinators and other creatures. Among the milkweed and asters, there are a hundred blueberry bushes, the fruits of which feed Wendy’s friends and family and fatten up the local birds. But Wendy shared that, nutritious though they are, blueberries are not as nutrient-dense as the incredibly health-giving blueberry leaves. These Wendy harvests in late September, when they’ve turned gold and red, for use in her products.
Peacham is also close to the legendary herbalist Rosemary Gladstar and to Zack Woods Herb Farm, which is owned by Gladstar’s stepdaughter Melanie and her husband, Jeff. These three renowned herbalists and Isabelle Hadley have been Wendy’s primary teachers over the years. Starting with a six-month course with Hadley back in the late ‘90s, Wendy has consistently broadened her knowledge through classes and workshops. She’s currently enrolled at a London-based school where she’s not only learning about skincare formulations but is also part of a global cohort that shares knowledge and expertise from around the world. Her enthusiasm for continuing education and willingness to take advantage of the resources around her is inspiring and has laid an excellent foundation for a successful, forward-thinking, cutting-edge business tucked away in northern Vermont.
Wendy was a stay-at-home mom with her three kids for about ten years in Peacham, during which time she fulfilled her herbalist passions in the evenings; in 2003, she started her business, then called Everlasting Herb Farm. (She still uses the name Everlasting Herb Farm to identify the place from which Meadowscape Botanicals springs.) In 2012 a friend encouraged her to send samples of her products to the Vermont Country Store, which led to a partnership that has lasted for a decade and to growth that necessitated a dedicated space and more time to support the burgeoning business. In 2017 Matthew built a barn to accommodate those needs, and the next year Wendy quit teaching to focus on Meadowscape full time.
If you visit the Meadowscape website, you’ll see numerous testimonials: “I can’t say enough about Wendy’s products… Her deodorant lasts through the day; her scar butter significantly minimized the appearance of a scar on my son’s forehead. I could keep going but will simply say I love her products— they never disappoint.” “The Skin Defense Salve works wonders for my daughter’s dry hands in the winter.” “I am an avid walker and runner who has used Wendy’s deodorants now for two years.” These products really work. They’re all 100% hand-made, from the highest quality ingredients, organic whenever possible, which means the growing techniques used are better for the planet. Wendy focuses on creating a business that aligns with her love for our beautiful Earth. She writes, “We as humans can help nature thrive. And in doing so, we will be able to help ourselves at the same time.” Almost all the Meadowscape products we carry at the Co-op are in glass or tin containers— she’s striving for plastic-free packaging.
Wendy is particularly excited about the line of deodorants she formulated after years of research. She says she is “more shocked than anyone” that she was able to create a recipe that works so well compared to many other natural deodorants. In her own words, “There is nothing like it. It took two years to get it to not melt but at the same time glide across the skin, to not have hair get stuck to it like a magnet, and for it to actually work at keeping odor away.” Like many of us who are devoted to natural skincare and plastic-free packaging, Wendy had given up on the idea that a non-toxic deodorant could actually work, but she really landed it. Meadow Bee deodorants are made as a bar and a rub that contain zinc ricinoleate from the castor plant, which traps odors; they’re baking soda free—she uses cassava flour (tapioca) instead, which is closer to our natural pH and thus less irritating; and zinc oxide is soothing and neutralizes odors. Meadow Bee deodorants also don’t leave residue on clothing and last all day.
What does the future hold for Meadowscape? Wendy would love for Meadowscape to grow! Currently, her wares are sold in three small shops in northern Vermont and at our Co-op, in addition to her website and one online retailer. But with her great enthusiasm and readiness for ongoing learning, it seems the sky’s the limit. Our Co-op is proud to support Meadowscape Botanicals and to provide a platform for Wendy to sell her thoughtful and effective products, which are infused not only with potent plant medicines but also with her joyful, compassionate spirit.
By Ruth Garbus