While staying in Manawatu, New Zealand, to attend the Kapa Haka Festival (the national war dance competition between 30 different indigenous groups) I visited the Herb Farm, a small natural products company, mostly because I heard their cafe had really good coffee (and after a week of nonstop action, I really needed it).
When I got to the farm I was sidetracked on my way to the coffee by a workshop filled with flowers, plants, and little jars of herbal extracts. There I met the Herb Farm's owner, Lynn Kirkland, who explained that the farm exists to create all-natural herbal skin care and healing products. She said that all products were made on-site at the farm and the plants and flowers used in them grew in the display gardens just outside. Lynn then showed me several flowers and leaves she picked from her garden and explained how each had particular healing or nourishing qualities she was able to extract and put into products like moisturizers, acne creams, and pain-relieving gels. It all sounded interesting, but I was a bit skeptical about flowers clearing away zits and leaves healing bleeding cuts.
However, I was really intrigued when she invited me to make a concoction of my own with her assistance. I asked if I could make some kind of topical pain reliever for some neck problems I've been having. I've grown weary of taking pills and was eager to try something natural that might actually work. Lynn had me mix up some rosehip oil, St. John's wort, lavender, and other healing and fragrant extracts into a natural cream base. Since then I've tried my potion several times and it seems to help. Maybe there is something to all this herbal stuff.
If you're around Manawatu, you can visit the Herb Farm, where you can purchase products, tour the gardens, and participate in create-your-own-product workshops. Oh, and the coffee is worth trying too.