We sat down with Herbal Academy graduate, Farai Harreld, to learn more about her herbal journey. Farai enjoys teaching folk herbal remedies on her Patreon channel called Folk Herbalism. She has completed Herbal Academy’s Botanical Skin Care, Foraging, and Mushroom courses. You can also find herbal inspiration on her Instagram account, @thehillbillyafrican.
HA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started your path into herbalism.
Farai Harreld: A relationship with herbalism is in my blood, but I probably didn’t start fully actualizing it until I was about 19 or 20 years old and went natural with my hair. I started experimenting with making tea rinses, infused oils, and butters. These simple adventures into self care snowballed into a deep love. I borrowed books from the library, attended classes, and dived deep into something that just felt ancestrally right for me. Even now, almost 10 years later I feel like I have just scratched the surface.
HA: Why did you choose to pursue your herbal education with the Herbal Academy?
Farai Harreld: Because the coursework is simple, easily accessible, beautiful, and approachable.
HA: Do you own an herbal business or brand?
Farai Harreld: I have a Patreon page called Folk Herbalism for everyone where I teach approachable access to folk herbal remedies along with their lore and tie it into connecting to our community. Patreon is a place to share paid content with your audience. Outside of my regular teaching, it’s a place for me to connect with my audience on a more regular basis.
HA: How did your Herbal Academy courses help shape or improve your business?
Farai Harreld: The courses that I took at Herbal Academy shared a plethora of information and studies. In addition, they connected me with other herbalists that I can collaborate with. I just love that Herbal Academy provides me with well-researched resources I can turn to whenever I need them.
HA: Tell us, what’s next for you in your herbal journey?
Farai Harreld: I am mostly interested in getting more education. I would actually love to travel back home to Zimbabwe or Botswana sometime and study with an herbalist there.
HA: What did you like most about your Herbal Academy course?
Farai Harreld: I love how in-depth they are. I was blown away by the attention to detail as well as all the background information provided on each topic. I also love the accompanying materials. Outside of the courses, the materials themselves are helpful on their own.
HA: Do you enjoy the Herbal Academy online community? If so, what specifically do you enjoy?
Farai Harreld: I love how friendly, and committed to service and community all the folks I have interacted with seem to be. I’ve made some lifelong friends who are also a wealth of information.
HA: If you were an herb, which herb would you be?
Farai Harreld: Rosemary. It smells heavenly. The lore and magic woven in with humans and this plant warm my heart. One of my aunt’s names is Rosemary, so it’s probably one of the first plants I consciously decided to work with when I was still a wee herbalist. It will always have my heart.
HA: Has anything about herbalism – or your herbalism practice – been a pleasant surprise?
Farai Harreld: The loving relationships, community, friendships, support, and partnerships that I have been blessed with.
HA: What is the biggest challenge you face in your personal or clinical herbal practice?
Farai Harreld: Time! I need more time to be able to do everything I want to do. One day I would love to actually complete a clinical herbalism program as my dream is to serve my local community in that capacity with a free clinic. But I do not have the time or resources to make that a reality right now. At the beginning of my journey, I probably struggled with feelings of inadequacy and imposterhood. But I know myself, my education, and my work ethic and that is not really an issue for me anymore.
HA: Which herbalism teachers, authors, or peers do you find most inspiring, and why?
Farai Harreld: This is going to be very hard because I love so many folks.
- I love one of my own teachers, Ocoee – an off-grid matriarch in my community who has been an herbalist for over 40 years.
- Sister Divine of https://www.divinebirthwisdom.com/ who teaches a magnificent ethnobotany class based on the folk, historical healing traditions of the South, particularly Black Southern Midwives.
- Karen Rose – for being an icon and sharing her wisdom and magic.
- Tori of Cedar Hill Homestead for being a badass formulator, teacher, and clinical herbalist.
- Alyson Morgan for sharing her love of the plants with her beautiful words and imagery.
- Aviva Romm for making herbal medicine accessible for women and caregivers of small children. Her book, Naturally Healthy Babies and Children, along with her podcast, were a boon for me during my postpartum period with my child.
HA: What is your favorite herbalism resource (book, podcast, movie) and why?
Farai Harreld: I love the Herbarium at Herbal Academy as a reliable source for learning more about individual herbs. I probably reference that resource the most, followed by sitting at the feet of older Folk herbalists in my community who share their wisdom in person or online via story and experience.
HA: Do you enjoy sharing your herbal knowledge with others in your life via recipes, products, photography, blog posts, community workshops, etc?
Farai Harreld: I do a lot of community workshops, as well as teach locally. I mostly love to just make simple herbal remedies for myself and share them with my loved ones and family. I enjoy having a homemade oil or salve for whatever my friends or I need. In addition, I love being able to connect people to local resources. I also blog and share my recipes online on social media occasionally as well as with my Patreon community.
HA: How has herbalism sparked your creativity?
Farai Harreld: Herbalism has probably played a role in me being more observant, and as a writer, when I am observant, I tend to write and create more. Plants, their lore, and the relationships humans have with them are fascinating and always lead me down a rabbit hole of creativity.
HA: If you could provide any tip or encouragement to those just starting their herbal studies, what would it be?
Farai Harreld: Try not to get overwhelmed. Pick one plant, spend time learning about it, then pick another one and keep going. Your journey is unique and special to you. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. You don’t have to sell herbal products or know everything, a relationship with medicinal herbs is in your DNA.
HA: Are there any elements of your herbal education where you’re still struggling to find trustworthy, well-researched information?
Farai Harreld: I wish there were more published and available resources related to African plants, herbal history, and the influences they have had on modern herbalism. I have had to hunt far and wide to find these resources and teachers because they do not get the same recognition due to erasure.
Stay tuned for the next installment of our Student Feature Series with Rachel Baker (@3_sources).
Read past student interviews with:
Inspired by Farai’s herbal journey? Further your own journey today by perusing our online herbal courses.