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New farmers market vendor utilizes one-of-a-kind plant usage

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Breathing new life into thrift wares, Botanist’s Closet brings repurposed, plant-based dyed goods to Adams County Farmers Market (ACFM) this season.

Harnessing pigments found in portions of plants that are often overlooked, owner Ema Hegberg, of Gettysburg, offers garments and goods incorporated with unique colors and hues.


Botanist’s Closet owner Ema Hegberg offers her unique plant-based dyed garments periodically to Adams County Farmers Market.

Her first time as an ACFM vendor, Hegberg has been dyeing with plant-based pigments for a year and a half, she said.

 “I’ve always had an interest in plant-based dyeing. I was really able to dive into it during the pandemic,” Hegberg said.

Although Botanist’s Closet’s online store has been up and running since December, having a community presence at ACFM was extremely important for Hegberg, she said.

As many of the materials needed for the dyes come from the local farms and businesses, it is essential the community see the products in living color, according to Hegberg.

Utilizing discarded plants and scraps including avocado pits and skins from Tacos Monarca, flowers from Loca Flora, and produce from Green Barn Farm, Hegberg incorporates the pigments to create unique plant-based dyes. Other materials used for dyeing pigments include onions, marigold, scabiosa, and madder root, she said.

“What would have been trash, we put to good use,” she said.

More than reutilizing or repurposing garments with the dyes, Hegberg rebirths them.

All products from Botanist’s Closet are natural-fiber thrift store finds “given a new life,” with planet-based dyes, including shirts, dresses, bandanas, socks, and more, according to Hegberg.

“It’s all what I can find,” she said.

Under Hegberg’s care, a garment can go from a thrift store shelf to rejuvenated with natural dye in a manner of days, she said.

“The magic is these pigments come from plants,” Hegberg said.

Even the name Botanist’s Closet comes from Hegberg’s ideal relation everyone should keep with the earth.

“It’s what I imagine a person who really loves the land and plants to look like,” she said.

Hegberg credits her passion and inspiration from Robin Wall Kimmerer, scientist and author of ecology, botany, and restoration books including, “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants,” she said.

“It’s beyond sustainability, it’s about reciprocity with the earth,” Hegberg said.

Botanist’s Closet is scheduled to return to ACFM August 14 and October 31. Hegberg’s goods can also be found at Loca Flora and 229 Vintage Wares, both in Gettysburg.

More information about Botanist’s Closet can be found at https://www.botanistscloset.com/ and Instagram.

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A.L. Grabenstein is a graduate of Philadelphia's La Salle University with a B.A in Communication and has been a journalist since 2016. She has reported for the Gettysburg Times and the Times Herald in Norristown, PA. Grabenstein moved to Gettysburg from Montgomery County in 2019. She was born in San Antonio, TX., and previously lived in Virginia, and North Carolina. Grabenstein is actively involved in the borough of Gettysburg and loves giving voices to the local community.

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