“Everything is done with Mother Earth in mind.”

So says Kirsten Shanks of Orchard St, her group of four cafes and dispensaries across Sydney (plus an online store), which is celebrating 10 years at the forefront of plant-based eating and herbal medicine.

Employing a philosophy of “activism through herbalism” – cementing in customers a respect for nature and encouraging them to act accordingly – the spaces in Bronte, Paddington, Manly and Bondi offer a range of food and drinks, herbal medicines, considered lifestyle wares and the company’s signature juice cleanses.

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“I’ve been working in the realm of plant medicines for almost 20 years now, and enhancing the body’s potential to thrive through herbal and nutritional medicines is at the core of my approach,” Shanks tells Broadsheet.

Shanks, a qualified naturopath, was inspired to open Orchard St after a trip to New York. (The company takes its name from Orchard Street on Manhattan’s lower east side.)

“While I was there I’d seen the cold-press juice and raw food movement in full swing,” she says. “I realised there was a clear gap in the Australian market for a holistic juice-cleanse model and [stores] that would serve as a platform to share the remedial potential of plant medicines in an accessible way.”

Orchard St launched online in late 2012 and within months its first bricks-and-mortar store followed in Bronte, with Bondi opening a year later. While plant-based menus are now a given, back then they were the exception.

“When we first opened the Bondi elixir bar, it took a wee while for the community to catch onto ’shroom lattes, tao tonics and even green juice,” says Shanks. “But we persevered, and today Bondi is often our busiest store.”

Enter any of the four spaces and you’ll encounter charming interiors that recall traditional apothecaries, with timber shelving, dried flowers and plenty of amber glass jars and bottles.

“The old-world charm of herbal apothecaries, with a floor-to-ceiling display of glass bottles and vials, has always resonated,” says Shanks. She wanted to bring the dispensary style of store to Sydneysiders – but she was aware that people might not see the benefits. That’s why you’ll find breakfast dishes, sweet treats and salads alongside the plant-based milk drinks and juices, as well as the brand’s popular juice cleanses, which are also sold online. Its apothecary range includes tinctures, elixir powders, medicinal mushrooms and botanical teas, alongside “base powders” like cacao and turmeric.

Lifestyle products run from essential-oil candles and hand-rolled incense to copper tongue scrapers. A collective of holistic health practitioners also operates from the Bronte and North Bondi spaces, offering a range of services from acupuncture and kinesiology to reiki and naturopathy.

“Orchard St was created with a crystal-clear vision for plant-medicine dispensaries,” says Shanks. “When we work with plants in daily life, we reap the full potential of nature’s capacity to support our innate state of being.”