Meet the Van Akens        Farming Off the Grid & Soil Management              
Van Akens
Heron's Nest Herb Farm took root in 1995 when Fred and Melanie Van Aken decided they wanted to live a more peaceful, rural life and learn more about growing and using medicinal herbs.

Melanie's path crossed with herbs in 1972 when her first son was born at home with help from a midwife, who recommended many herbs to ease the common discomforts of pregnancy and birth. In 1975, Melanie became a midwife, and her intense childbirth studies lead her further into learning more about herbs. Both Melanie and Fred shared a natural love of gardening so it didn't take them long to begin experimenting at their Austin home with growing some commonly used herbs. What they discovered is that the majority of herbs that interested them actually thrive in Central Texas. They included lavender and Echinacea purpurea, a commonly used immune system booster.

In 1994, they found a beautiful gem of land to call home near Blanco, complete with a creek and a wetland. They moved and went from home gardening to small organic farm production. In 2004, Fred retired from his job of 22 years as an engineering technician with an Austin pharmaceutical company and took up full-time farming. Since then, the Van Akens' herb farm has stepped up production. A section of Echinacea, fenced and planted last year, flourishes, is thriving. In 2004, a lavender-picking garden was completed and terraced with natural stone found on the land. The beautiful area offers a wonderful place to enjoy a glass of herbal tea beneath shade trees.

In 2005, trails lined with lavender and other woody herbs were developed. These trails lead to a scenic picnic area to the Echinacea field and around the spring. One of the unique features of these production areas is that they are watered with rainwater using a drip-irrigation system run by solar power.

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