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Herbal Academy Student Feature: Amber Benge (@gracewalkfarm) by Herbal Academy
26 Apr 2024

Herbal Academy Student Feature: Amber Benge (@gracewalkfarm)

Amber Benge (@gracewalkfarm) is the owner of Grace Walk Farm where she teaches a gardening course, making money on a homestead, how to grow zinnias, and more! She is also a graduate of Herbal Academy’s The Foraging Course, Introductory Herbal Course, and the Herbal Materia Medica Course. She also ministers to her family, neighbors, and local community by offering herbal support using tinctures, teas, and salves from her personal apothecary.

HA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started your path into herbalism.

woman pointing at pots of vegetable plants

Amber Benge: I sort of fell in love with herbalism by accident. I began planting a few herbs in my vegetable garden as a pest control measure. I chose culinary herbs like sage and rosemary and basil—all the things easily available at the garden center. I realized within the first few months that companion planting was powerful! 

But now I suddenly had lots of herbs and I had to learn how to use them. This led to a whirlwind romance of sorts. I met German thyme, lemon balm, and bergamot. I discovered that sniffing pineapple sage blooms can transform your entire state of mind. Just as I was beginning to understand the potential benefits of these plants, I realized I desperately needed them.

In 2021, I was diagnosed with lyme disease after a year-long battle with autoimmune p

roblems. I turned to holistic medicine to help me heal because my trust in the Western medical system was very broken. I found a local herbalist and we got to work. With the help of beauties like ashwagandha, lemon balm, and rosemary, I began to move my body into a healing state. And I got well. I lost 70 pounds. My joint pain slowly disappeared. My headaches stopped (thank you feverfew!).

After I began experiencing all these incredible benefits to my own health, I dove headfirst into learning everything I could about herbs. I am so grateful for Herbal Academy and the courses offered here. The blog has been one of my favorite resources for learning. 

HA: Why did you choose to pursue your herbal education with the Herbal Academy?

Amber Benge: I first “met” Herbal Academy in 2021 during my search for help with my own autoimmune problems. The blog was so helpful to me in starting to look at each plant and how to use it from a very beginner’s perspective. I looked at dozens of herbal resources and many of them felt overwhelming or didn’t feel right to me personally and my Christian faith. I found Herbal Academy to be a “safe place” for me to learn about herbs. It is my most trusted source.

HA: Do you own an herbal business or brand?

Amber Benge: I don’t have an herbal business, but I do have a small town apothecary. I don’t advertise it at all, but people talk to their friends and neighbors and I get phone calls from time to time. I’ve been able to offer herbal support for earaches, migraines, anxiety, and insomnia with my tinctures, teas, and salves. Herbs feel very personal to me and I make each preparation with a lot of prayer and intention for the person it will go to. So I keep my apothecary small, using it to minister to my family, neighbors, and local community. 

woman showing a home canned jar of tomatoes

HA: What did you like most about your Herbal Academy course?

Amber Benge: I love that the Herbal Academy courses are self paced. I’m a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, a gardener, and the leader of the most incredible community of home gardeners in the world on Instagram. Shout out to my Grace Walk Farm garden friends! But the point is I’m a busy lady most days and Herbal Academy makes it really easy for me to find time to work on my education. I could sneak in little 15-minute pockets of time to do a lesson and this honestly felt like such a treat. It was like my self care time to sit and study something I’m so curious and passionate about.

HA: If you were to recommend an Herbal Academy course to your best friend, what would you say?

Amber Benge: If you are really ready to dive in and start learning how to use herbs, take the Introductory Herbal Course. It gives you such a solid foundation on all the basic herbal preparation methods. You’ll have a strong understanding of how to start using herbs immediately after (and even during) this class. 

Amber Benge showing a jar of dried herbs

HA: Is there a specific herb that you feel particularly drawn to? If so, why do you think that is OR what is it about that plant that fascinates you?

Amber Benge: There’s just something about basil. It’s such a common herb, but it’s also such a powerful plant. And it’s one that you don’t even have to make into a fancy herbal preparation to enjoy— just add it to your food. I’m currently growing eight varieties of basil; it’s a bit of an obsession. 

HA: If you were an herb, which herb would you be?

Amber Benge: I think I would aspire to be lemon balm. It’s bright, sunny aroma and soothing properties just sum up who I hope to be as a woman and as a human. I want to be a warm, calm presence for everyone I meet.

HA: Has your herbalism experience encouraged you to learn and explore other related niches, like botanical crafts, gardening, natural dyeing, aromatherapy, etc?  

Amber Benge: Herbalism is a deep rabbit hole and I fell hard and fast. I’ve now ventured into taking classes on natural dyeing, basket weaving, and even integrative health. It seems that each new herbalist I encounter has a different skillset and I just love to soak up all of it, anytime I get a chance.

HA: Do you have any rituals or traditions surrounding herbalism that you would like to share? These can be long-standing traditions or new ones that you’ve integrated into your life since taking our course. 

Amber Benge:

I pray over my herbal preparations and I believe deeply that this is the most important step in my own personal home apothecary. From the moment when I first assemble a tincture to the later steps when I strain and bottle, I try to always stop and pray at each step. God made these plants and He knows best how to use them so I always go to Him first, the master Herbalist. 

Amber Benge walking through her garden

HA: Has anything about herbalism—or your herbalism practice—been a pleasant surprise?

Amber Benge: When I started my herbal journey, I was really looking at it from the angle of which herbs I should be cultivating in my garden. But then as I began to study more plants, I realized there are dozens of native plants that have already been cultivated for me. 

As I began to do some foraging, it really evolved into a treasure hunt for me. I would spot a new flower growing in the back pasture and immediately go look it up to see what it was and how we could use it. And it didn’t take long for me to realize that as the needs of my family changed, so did the plants my land was producing. When my daughter’s asthma flared, we found a huge patch of fleabane growing by our home. When my husband was struggling with some stomach problems, I started to see dozens of patches of speedwell in the front yard. When I had a sinus infection that just wouldn’t go away, there was sage, surviving a long cold winter against all odds. It was literally the only plant that survived that winter in the garden. And I knew it was for me. When I began to take the sage preparations, I got well. Your land will provide what your body needs. That was such a shocking principle to learn, but it has changed everything about how I view plants as a gardener.

HA: If you could provide any tip or encouragement to those just starting their herbal studies, what would it be?

Amber Benge: I would encourage you to start with trusted sources as you learn the foundations of herbalism. While you can find a lot of helpful information on plants through an internet search, that is never going to give you the same caliber of education that you get from an experienced herbalist. Herbal Academy makes it possible to learn from trustworthy herbalists no matter where you live. It’s truly a beautiful community for anyone looking to learn about herbs so I would highly encourage any beginners to just sign up for a class and get connected with Herbal Academy on social media

Herbal Academy Student Feature: Amber Benge (@gracewalkfarm) | Herbal Academy | Amber Benge is the owner of Grace Walk Farm where she teaches a gardening course, making money on a homestead, how to grow zinnias, and more!

Read past student interviews with:

Grace Jones (@gunkinthewoods) – Make of herbal products, director of neighborhood kids garden club, and graduate of the Advanced Herbal Course.

Natalya King (@bodylovebytal) – Maker of herbal skincare products and graduate of Tincture Making 101 Course

Jess Bergeron (@jkb.journal) – Home herbalist and graduate of Mastering Herbal Formulation Course

Dave Achula (@achula_) – Invites individuals to explore the healing power of nature, directly in nature; graduate of Intermediate Herbal Course

Dagny Kream (@thecottagepeach) – Slow-living inspiration: recipes, gardening, seasonal crafts, traditional skills, and more; graduate of the Botanical Skin Care Course

Laura Rubin (@nurtureforall) – Empowers others to live more joyfully through the amazing power of herbs, helping them to reconnect with your body and the Earth; graduate of Herbal Business Course

Serena Hartwell (@serenahartwell) – Forager, photographer, herbalist, and graduate of Intermediate Herbal Course and Emulsifiers and Preservatives in Botanical Products: 2 Part Intensive

Andrea Minniti (@divinebalanceco) – Writer, wildcrafted recipe creator, and graduate of The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course and Intermediate Herbal Course