C H A N D R A
I currently live in Panama City Beach, Florida and co-own Wild. Root. Coffee & Tea with my husband Eric Marcus. My passion for herbalism grew out of a lifelong love of plants, rooted in observing and helping my grandmother in her garden. Though my first career was in design, my quest for plant and herbal knowledge was always in the background. I grew up in Frederick, Maryland and after earning a degree in architectural design; I moved to Florida and worked for several architecture firms before starting my own company in 2000 designing custom homes along Scenic 30A. During this time, I had a profound healing experience through a TCM clinic. That was over twenty years ago and those health issues never returned. At that point, I considered changing my career to study TCM.
The feeling that I was supposed to do other work stayed with me. In 2005, I took a natural building class at Ecosa Institute and went on to earn a B.A. from Prescott College in Sustainable Community Development with a focus on creating built environments that honor and integrate the natural world. During this time, I earned a certificate in Permaculture Design through EAT with Starhawk and Penny Livingston. I also started selling seeds and micro-greens at the local Seaside Farmers Market. My architecture business grew to include permaculture design and edible landscaping. This blossomed into a desire to open a small garden shop and teach community classes, from which Wild. Root. was born. It was through my shop that I met several women who were instrumental in steering me towards studying herbalism professionally; one of these friends was a student at East West School of Planetary Herbology.
I started with East West in January 2016. In 2019, I completed their professional herbalism course and went on to study with Sifu Miles Coleman at Hsin Fa School of Herbal and Energetic Medicine. I completed this advanced herbal program this year and was given my family name - Yi Lung Ma. Through East West I had the opportunity to study with Michael and Leslie Tierra, 7Song, Ron Teeguarden, Miles Coleman, Christopher Hobbs, Candice Cantin, among other incredible herbalists who came before me. I have also completed my Wilderness First Aid Certification with Sam Coffman through his school The Human Path. My vision is to continue to nurture and cultivate our shop as a community space for teaching, learning, and healing, and help revitalize interest in local plant medicine. I’m also dedicated to my practice of Baguazhang and Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. My favorite things to do are spend time with my family and explore Florida’s diverse ecosystems, focusing on its opportunistic flora.
Wild. Root. began in a tiny space at Zen Garden & Lotus Cafe in Panama City Beach, Florida. We started as a community-centered garden boutique focused on education, permaculture, and a place to share our love of the natural world.
Thanks to our supportive community, we quickly grew and moved to a larger space on the same property. Our herbal apothecary was added, as well as community workshops, plants, and other natural beauties. Co-owner Eric dreamed of offering our customers a little espresso while they shopped. From this idea, he created the first outdoor espresso bar in our area - in the garden! Our coffee is all organic and fair trade provided by B Corp Amavida Coffee Roasters right here in Walton County.
Pre-Hurricane Michael we decided to open a second location in a place where we could eventually call home. We found the perfect building at 830 Florida Ave. in historic Lynn Haven, Florida, a short drive across the Hathaway Bridge. The building was built in 1910 and had formerly served as an office and several shops. The beautiful floor to ceiling bookcases and rolling ladder were already in place. We thought this would be the perfect Wild. Root. Coffee and Apothecary!
We were off and running with both shops purring along when Hurricane Michael struck. We were extremely fortunate and only sustained minor damage. A little banged up and a tarp on our roof, we were up and running after a few weeks when power and water were restored. We quickly realized that we needed to add more food items to our menu to feed the emergency crews and workers that had descended on our area.
We all know what happened in 2020. We made the tough decision to close our beach shop and just focus on Lynn Haven. This turned out to be a blessing as the community continued to show us their support. We combined all the plants, herbs, and natural curiosities into one shop.
We are so excited to start this year with a bang! We have a new outdoor courtyard open day and night. We have welcomed Great American Mess Hall into our space. Chef Eric Rickards and his wife Tyrsa are bringing Pizza nights every Friday and Saturday from 4-8pm. They are also doing Sunday Brunch from 10-2. Chef Daniel Ezell is on staff and he has been instrumental in fine-tuning our daily offerings and is featuring private dinners once a month. The herbal section of our shop is exploding. In addition to over 150 organic, local, or sustainably wildcrafted herbs, we have added organic spices, and more of our private collection of Chinese herbs. We also offer tinctures, salves, dit da jow, and herbal blends made by professionally trained herbalist Chandra Hartman. Let's see where this year takes us!