The Herbal Academy

I never claim to be all-knowing in the realm of natural healing–or anything I dive into. As a result, I am constantly seeking new information. It is never enough for me. I get a true high from grasping new information and storing it away for later use. I am just as happy learning alone as I am in a group of people. In fact, I hate crowds, but it is very easy for me to tolerate a crowd if learning is involved.

Even better than learning is actually using what I have learned, especially if I’m passionate about it. Many people we have become acquainted with or work with ask, at least once, how I know as much as I do about natural remedies and using herbs as an appropriate means of being healthy or solving ailments. My answer, for a very long time in my youth, was either “We have a garden…” or somewhere along the lines of  “That’s just what we use.” It wasn’t until around middle school that I realized my love and appreciation of nature and its partnership with us wasn’t the norm. My easygoing nature probably saved me from a lot of bullying because no one knew what I was talking about in this department–ever. It wasn’t important for preteens or teenagers. Most friends were either minutely intrigued or just brushed what knowledge I did carry off.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

In my late teens and early twenties I hit a wall. And it was unexpectantly devastating. I had what I learned growing up in a household that valued and respected nature–but that was it. And it actually bothered me because I knew there had to be more. I ventured into the world of Google and learned there was a whole world I was missing, beyond the common culinary herbs of the kitchen. By mid twenties, I was mostly properly making tea infusions, oil infusions, and salves. Then I hit a wall again. I needed to know more, but Google wasn’t cutting it. I now know it was a combination of not really knowing what else to research for deeper understanding and technique and of not having a mentor or group to communicate with. So, I did what most of us do and I stalked forums and joined a few groups on Facebook later on when groups on Facebook first became a big deal.

Although it was very encouraging to communicate with like-minded individuals, the wall was still there. I realized it was time to do some research into education being offered to further my own studies.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

I traveled back into the Google realm and found numerous online schools. After much consideration and research, I fell in love with the Herbal Academy. They offer numerous courses ranging from introductory to advanced with other courses in between. The natural starting point is their introductory course.

In the introductory course, the student has little to no herbal experience upon enrollment and is immersed in a world full of infusions and other handmade body care products. Don’t let the fact that it’s an introductory course turn you away; there is a lot of information on herbs (some found in the kitchen and some found with wildcrafting). There are recipes, plant identification tips, and much more content you can access online or download to print and keep a hardcopy of. And you’ll find that with every course available, all content is able to be downloaded and printed (minus the informative videos).

I have been really happy furthering my herbalist education with the Herbal Academy. When you’re done with the courses you’re taking, it is such an invaluable resource to have at your fingertips for future referencing.

Along with being a student at the Herbal Academy, you have access to their student-only Facebook community. There, you interact with students in various courses as well as the teachers.

If you are looking to receive a more formal education in the world of herbs, I highly recommend this school. It’s self paced, online, and interactive. Students and teachers are always sharing something, there are quizzes embedded into each course, and you do recieve a certificate of completion at the end of your courses.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

I do recommend starting at the beginning, even if you’re on the fence between introduction and intermediate levels. Dosing is discussed even in the introductory course, as well as herbs for children, women, and men. Various body systems are discussed and what herbs are used to promote good health in regards to those body systems. So, even though it is an introductory course, it is definitely not for the faint of heart. There’s a very balanced combination of what I would label “newbie” stuff with very enlightening details as to why everything works the way it does, which is what I found to be lacking in my independent research before enrolling into this school. When you finish any course, you really get the sense of knowing what to do or use, but what I find to be most satisfying is that you begin to understand the why, which is most important because that why knowledge is what will help you make independent decisions if a scenario calls for it. Having a recipe is great and many are provided, but that why is going to help you change–in a responsible way–anything that needs to be changed in a formula based on the more unique needs of an individual and/or case, even for something as minor as a cold.

Many of you have enjoyed discussing our natural world with me and if you’re looking to further your own independent studies, check the Herbal Academy out. Knowledge is power. There are different courses and if you’re very certain you’re serious about it, check the different packages out below because it can save you money if you’re just going to take more than one course in the long run.

Clinical Herbalist Package
Entrepreneur Herbalist Package 
Professional Herbalist Package
Family Herbalist Package

I know some of you are probably tired of hearing this, but I am going to say it again. The family at Harman Farms does NOT discredit the practice of medicine and we do not ignore its place and need in society. Although we do believe much of medicine (the biggest topic being antibiotic overuse) is blindly overused by society as a whole, we do know that doctors of varying degrees are important and actually helpful (we LOVE our kids’ pediatrician and gladly overlook his lacking bedside manners in exchange for his brutal honesty); and although using herbs just as responsibly as you do pharmaceuticals is a BIG bonus to overall health, you’re going to AT LEAST need a diagnoses from a medical professional to make the proper lifestyle changes to benefit your unique needs the most. If you are unsure or concerned of something, there is nothing wrong with consulting a doctor and there is nothing wrong with also consulting a professional herbalist as well. Again: knowledge is power and the more of it you have, the better decisions you can make for yourself and your family.

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Soap Making Class

I finally did the one thing I really wanted to do this summer; I got to make handmade soap! I was pretty psyched about going to this class because everyone who had taken it expressed how amazing it was.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

A big thank you to Alan Trace from Purple Passion Soaps for teaching everyone. It was a full class and obviously very hands on. He supplied everything–everything! Other classes I was looking at would not even take you as a student unless you purchased your own set of protective gear. That was on top of registering for the class. Trace supplies the materials for the class so if you end the class feeling like this isn’t really for you, you don’t have to feel bummed out about all the riot gear you just purchased for one class.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

It was a small class, which is good since handling lye mixed with water can be a potential disaster if you spill it on yourself. Trace was very safe and supplied mixing dishes that were deep enough where you would literally have to drop it all over yourself in order to get it on you. We did not have any issues with accidently flinging the lye solution as we mixed, everything stayed safely contained. Aprons, gloves, breathing masks, and safety goggles were supplied and everyone was taught how and when to use them.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

I really enjoyed mixing all of the oils with the lye solution. Once I was able to add my essential oils and dried lavender buds I was really in heaven because it just smelled lovely. I chose frankincense and lavender as my essential oils, going a little heavier on the lavender side.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

This is what we were able to take home to be cut the next day.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

And here it is cut the next day. It is still on my counter on a cookie rack and should be good to go in four weeks.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

I have decided that this is something I want to continue doing. I do want to invest in silicone molds because I’m horrible at cutting in uniform. It’s quite scary actually. Very embarrassing. I’m not sure how I passed kindergarten cutting the way I do as an adult; I can’t even cut in a straight line on paper.

I want to start off small since I’m limited in materials at the moment. I want to be able to provide soap for my family, but in the future I would really like to add this to goods we offer on our farm. I want to play with it and perfect it a bit first though.

If you want to purchase a good bar of soap, check Alan Trance out on Facebook. He does a much better job at it than I do.

If you want to learn from Alan Trance keep your eye on Maggie’s Herb Farm, owned by Dora Baker. Like and follow their Facebook because Alan Trance teaches his beginning soap making class there. He is a great teacher; he’s very knowledgeable and calm. Calm is a really big factor for soap making because if the teacher is having a panic attack every step of the way, it’s counterproductive. One can tell he wanted to teach people to safely make soap; not scare anyone away from it. And really, the more nervous you are (student or teacher) the more likely you are to make a mistake.

It was very safe and very fun. If you’re a DIY kind of person and you’re in Florida, I would contact him and see when his next available class is.

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Maggie’s Herb Farm

I am feeling pretty overwhelmed at the amount of cool stuff I’ve been wanting to share lately! We have so much going on. I have to introduce you guys to one of my favorite places, Maggie’s Herb Farm. This introduction is long overdue, this place is amazing. Every single medicinal (and some culinary) herb I have came from Maggie’s.

This farm has been in the same spot since 1983. Dora Baker is the current owner. My family and I carry a very deep appreciation of her. She has worked in the clinical setting as a herbalist so it’s only logical that her nursery carries many medicinal herbs. Being a lover of nature, she also carries plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Maggie’s Herb Farm also carries plants native to Florida, one of my favorites being the datil pepper. This pepper is a native of one of my favorite cities, St. Augustine. It’s kind of a big deal around these parts. We purchased a few plants on our last visit to hopefully incorporate into our homemade spicy Italian sausages we sell at the Port Orange Pavilion Market.

Maggie’s also hosts numerous classes. We have attended the Herbal Medicine Chest and Beginning Soap Making classes. Being a teacher and also a lifelong learner my most enjoyable experiences during these classes have been learning new things, but it’s also quite inspiring to be around other like-minded people on similar quests to healthier living.

The environment itself is relaxing, so it’s no surprise that this nursery hosts yoga classes. Living in Ormond Beach, I simply have not been able to attend. Being someone who greatly enjoys the benefits of yoga, I would attend at least for the setting, if I lived closer.

Touring the nursery is a pleasant experience. Depending on the season, the plants will be booming with butterflies. Every day of the year one can see the chickens roaming the land. They’re far from a nuisance and don’t spook easily from people. It’s obvious the flock is well taken care of and loved. Even the roosters are calm, but being prey animals by nature I instinctively never tell anyone to try to hold or cuddle a hen or rooster they simply do not know. If you’re browsing plants at this nursery, do not be startled if a hen walks over your feet as she does her ritual foraging.

What I appreciate the most when I visit Maggie’s Herb Farm, is if I have a question Dora is there to answer it and she is actually knowledgable in the area of medicinal herbs. That’s really not an easy thing to find locally.

If you’re looking for an actual nursery where you can browse herbs and plants that you don’t typically find in most nurseries, I definitely recommend coming out here. It is such a gem and so much nicer than ordering plants online. As a studying herbalist I appreciate being able to grow most of what I use. I understand that it is not always possible to grow what I need to use, but to be able to grow as much as possible on site  is really a dream we’re trying to achieve on our farm.

If you are in St. Augustine–or anywhere in Florida–make a trip here. Visit the historical aspects of the city, do lunch somewhere, then come to Maggie’s to shop. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend a free day.

Check out their website, or their Facebook. They have a very quick respond time on Facebook and happily help with any questions you may have. Check them out, they are amazing.

And if you want to follow what we have been doing with these herbs check us out here, here, and here. These are some older posts and we will be adding more in the future as we look to the possibilities of a greenhouse and as I practice more with my copper still.

Check back with us the next couple of weeks as we share our beginning journey in soap making and other natural products.

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If you have anything you would like to share, please comment below.

Fallen Baby Birds

Hi, everyone! I really want to talk about something that happened recently on our farm that I know some people have experienced, even if they don’t live on a farm. It’s something that really tugs on maternal heart-strings and if one doesn’t know what to do, the scenario becomes quite nerve wrecking quickly.

Baby birds. The fact of the matter is they do fall out of nests. And some of them do indeed die. And it is gut wrenching. Since moving out here my emotional skin towards the circle of life has thickened, but I still cannot get over the loss of a child, even an animal. Even a wild animal.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

This is Taz. He’s a Weimaraner. And he steals babies. He has never hurt a baby animal, but he does take them home. Our first year out here he found a baby softshell. He brought it to the front door and I was able to move it to a safe location away from our huskies.

We’ve had him sit with sick baby goats so they don’t get lonely. He’s very loyal and stays close to anything in distress or ill. When I was nearing the end of both pregnancies, this dog was attached to the hip. When my husband used to work nights and we were alone, Taz would always be by my side and the first to stand guard when he’d come home, only to quickly return to a friendly stance once he knew it was just daddy coming home.

We got him right after my first miscarriage. He was attached to me from day one, but I think that’s just his temperament. He truly feels it’s his duty to help.

He’s also an idiot though and there is no doubt in my mind that he had some part to play in today’s events. I went out into our garage and there’s a small pile of old train tracks we had for trains that toddlers can ride on. My kids are too big for that so it’s just sitting there. I saw wings flutter to the top then just drop down. Next to the pile? Taz. “What the hell did you do?” I asked him and he wagged his tail. Jerk. About thirty minutes earlier I remember him hanging out by some of our trees and a mockingbird striking him. He didn’t even flinch. He just sat there. I hoped the thing could fly as I lifted the train tracks it was trapped in and all it did was hop. Crap. As it was hopping, Taz was trying to herd it back into the garage. Double crap.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

So I scooped the baby bird up. It had its flight feathers, but still some baby fluff. I looked at its face. It looked like a grumpy old man. The chirp it cried out only gave me the final confirmation I needed. Taz had abducted a baby mockingbird. I HATE those things. But, it was a scared baby. I went outside near the trees that Taz likes to hang out under looking for a nest. I was unable to find it. I saw a full-grown mockingbird watching me pretty closely, unusually quiet. I approached one particular tree that agitated the bird. It came swooping toward the tree and landed half a foot from my face. Judging by the size, it could very well have been the mother.

Because I have no shame in talking to animals like they’re humans I scolded the bird “You lost your kid. Seriously? Do you know that if one of the huskies got it, it would be dogfood right now?” The bird chirped angrily at me. I didn’t see a nest. The baby I had was a hopper, but it wouldn’t be long before it took its first flight. There was no way I could provide for its needs, with me being a complete stranger at this stage of its life.

So, what did I do?

Photographed by Amanda Harman

I brought the bird back to the tree I was hoping the nest was in since mamma bird was angry at me being there.

Then something happened I never saw happen. The baby bird took off out of the tree, fell, then ran to the neighbor’s yard. Mamma bird was even more upset. Taz got worried and watched his baby leave. We’re working to make sure the thing is fed and hopefully he’ll interact with other birds still and take flight. Normally, birds reunite, but I think there was just too much going on and the baby panicked.

I mainly wanted to share this experience because most people think that if they see a baby bird they should leave it alone because the parents will not accept a baby bird that a human has touched. That’s not true, in fact if you know where the nest is you should pick that baby up and return it to its nest.

If you do return a baby bird to its nest know that there’s a good chance that you won’t see a parent return right away. Most birds do not possess the bold demeanor that a mockingbird does and will hide until they’re sure it’s safe, especially if they saw you handle the baby. It doesn’t mean they won’t return though. Resist the urge to keep peeking into the nest. Let mom–and sometimes dad–do the job mother nature intended.

What do you do if you can’t find a nest, especially if the babies clearly don’t have their feathers in yet? This is actually easier than my little runner this morning. They don’t really move. It’s possible they got knocked out by a strong storm or even just wind. If you have a hanging planter, you can take it and create your own little nest. Use natural materials like the parents would. Needles, dried leaves, mulch, etc. will do. Create walls like a nest with the natural material and put the bird–or birds–in it. Hang the new nest as close to where the previous nest may have been as possible and leave them be. Hopefully the parents will find the new nest, especially when the chicks start chirping for food.

In most scenarios, it is best to try to keep the babies with the parents as much as possible. Birds are quite sensitive and even though we mean well, the traumatizing experience of being moved can be enough to kill a young chick. When you find a baby bird, always try to return it home. Resist the urge to take over and care for it like it’s your own. It’s not yours and they’re not the easiest of animals to care for, especially when young.

Hopefully this post was informative and you’ll know the basics of what to do if you ever do find a fallen little one.


Sage. Antimicrobial, bitter, carminative, diuretic, and astringent. There’s a lot going on with this herb, so it’s a great addition for many dishes to help get the benefits. You can also use this herb in medicinal recipes.


Something that is antimicrobial kills microorganisms, or stops their growth. Natural or synthetic antimicrobials are grouped based on the microorganisms they act against. So that means, something that is antibiotic is antimicrobial; something that is antifungal is antimicrobial. But something can be antimicrobial, but not necessarily antibiotic or antifungal. And the antimicrobial is then further categorized based on which strain of bacteria, fungi, etc. they fight against. There are TONS of herbs that are antimicrobial, but their microorganism fighting speciality differs. Sage fights against Bacillus Cereus. Bacillus Cereus is a bacteria that causes diarrhea and vomiting. Sage can also fight against minor skin infections/acne.


Fun fact, bitter-tasting herbs aid in digestion, strictly because of the bitter taste. If you have chronic stomach issues with bloat or gas, or you want to give your digestive system a good kick-start, drink an herbal tea that is bitter about 20 minutes before eating. If you’re taking sage for an illness this bitter taste can be beneficial. 75% of your immune system is in the gut and keeping your digestive system healthy and running smoothly, especially when you’re sick, is important. You want your immune system to be focused on fixing you and not working extra hard on an ill functioning digestive system. How does this work? As soon as your taste receptors detect the bitter taste, your vagus nerve gets going, meaning all the digestive organs responsible for secretions begin as well as other functions involved in getting food from point A to point B.


In short? Got the farts? Yeah, carminative properties help with flatulence.


Increases urine flow. This can help with water retention and high blood pressure.


If you have oily skin, applying a sage infusion (especially if your skin is sensitive) can help because it tightens the skin.

In Ayurveda

Sage is classified as a drying and slightly heating herb, which makes it great for colds with lots of phlegm. It’s not something I would recommend by itself for a fever, but you can use it in combination with other herbs that are diaphoretic and fever breaking. Since sage is drying, avoid use in dry coughs.

So, that’s sage! I could actually do a second post in sage for culinary use to maintain good health as well. I can even write a third post on its history in different cultures. This herb is awesome and so easy to grow. Mine is going nuts.

Curious about other medicinal/culinary herbs we have on the farm? Click here and check it out.

Interested in continuing your education or career as an herbalist? Check out the Herbal Academy.
Whether you are just getting started in herbalism or have been exploring this natural path for some time, you might realize that there are several directions to take as an herbalist! Perhaps you are interested in opening up an herb shop or selling your own natural body care products. Maybe your passion is for people, and therefore your desire is to become a community herbalist. Or maybe you wish to study herbalism to benefit your own family’s health and wellbeing.
Follow your calling, and match up your personal or career goals with the Herbal Academy’s unique Herbalist Paths. These discounted training packages are designed to help guide you in your journey and your educational needs! Infuse your life with your herbal education when choosing the Family Herbalist Path, prepare for a business start-up in the Entrepreneur Herbalist Path, or learn how to work with clients professionally through the Clinical Herbalist Path.
All Herbalist Paths are offered at a discount and with a payment plan option! Learn more about the Herbal Academy’s programs and paths here.