Peppers Capsicum was the International Herb Society’s Herb of the Year for 2016. What a great herb. Who doesn’t love peppers, whether sweet or hot, they’re not only tasty but beautiful in the gardens. Lots of varieties were growing at the Arboretum Herb Gardens, including some unique variets of Pablano, Chilhuacle Negro,& Chilhuacle Rojo. Thanks to Chip Abernethy and all the members who helped with the garden work this year. Several members earned their aprons for having worked over 15 documented hours of garden work. That is quite an achievement as even I haven’t earned the coveted apron. Thanks & Congrats to Patricia Coldwell and Jennie Kirschbaum for your hard work and earning your aprons. We look forward to your continued enthusiasm in the gardens.
Shady Acres Herb Farm was the site for our March meeting. We didn’t know it at the time, but that would be the last official meeting at Shady Acres, as Theresa Meisler announced in June that she would be closing Shady Acres at the end of the season. Since the International Herb Association had designated Peppers, Capsicum as Herb of the Year for 2016, Theresa entertained us while making Vegetarian Chili, full of what else, but peppers. We always eat well at our events, and March was not an exception to that rule with an interesting and delicious array of foods. A few hardy souls trudged down to the Greenhouse to get their “green fix”.
In April, Elinor Wagner, Gloria Danielson, Carla Jefferson, Bonnie Hector, and JoDee Schumer represented the Minnesota Herb Society at the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Art in Bloom. The painting was a challenging one to interpret in herbs, but it proved that our members are very creative. “The Hmong Migration” by St. Paul artist Cy Thao was of interest because the committee was mindful of the recent refugee crisis in Syria.
May brought our planting day. It was nice day, but despite the sunshine and talking, we did get a lot planted in the Herb Gardens at the MN Landscape Arboretum. And of course, our tradition of having Mai Wine was enjoyed by all. It’s always a great day of fellowship, fun, and maybe a little wine.
The Nursery Tour was held on May . We had a load of fun. Jill Boettcher once again did an outstanding job of arranging a great tour. We started in St. Paul at Egg/Plant, then headed to Psycho Suzy’s in NE Minneapolis for lunch and some Psycho drinks. Following lunch, we met at Mother Earth Gardens in NE Minneapolis. The varieties at both nurseries were great, but I especially thought Mother Earth had a wonderful selection of unique plants and herbs. Note to self; shop there this spring. Thanks Jill for your continued work on coming up with a fabulous tour for the Herb Society.
June of course, brought the closing of Shady Acres Herb Farm, the place that we loved to shop for a wide variety of herbs. But before closing the doors, Theresa put on a wonderful Herb Symposium. Pat Crocker and Susan Betz gave presentations and while it wasn’t an official Minnesota Herb Society event, many of our members attended.
Once again, Patty Stamy, hosted our annual summer tea. Her gardens are quite lovely on the shores of Lotus Lake. And once again, we enjoyed delicious food and fellowship. Are you seeing a trend here?
Thanks to Veronica Malone for hosting the August evening meeting. It was a lovely evening and one that is always enjoyed with a tasty Pot Luck. Veronica’s garden are always peaceful and fun to walk through.
The Vinegar Bottling Day was hosted by Sylvia Costa in September. Members throw herbs in vinegar for several weeks and then bottle the results to sell at our sales. The only thing that limits the types of vinegar that are made are what our members decide to steep in vinegar each fall. It’s always fun to try new vinegars and we were very successful in selling many varieties.
Our sales continue to flourish. It’s no secret that we are in transition, as Judy Hoxmeier is taking a step down from making all the product. But we did have a successful year. Judy, words cannot express our deep gratitude to you for all the work you’ve done over the years. Although we may see a decline in sales as we go through the next couple of years, I am very thankful to all the members that have stepped forward to make products for our sales. THANK YOU.
We had several HIGs over the past year; Shirley Kooyman hosted a HIG on creating a Forsythe Pot in September, Bonnie Hector hosted a HIG on creating decorative willow balls for our gardens, and Jan Strand hosted a day last wintere to create shea butter creams with essential oils. The HIGs (Herbal Interest Groups) are always a lot of fun. Usually they are much smaller, but also a ton of fun. If you have any ideas for a HIG, don’t hesitate to contact me with your idea.
The MN Herb Society also created decor for one of the holiday trees at the Arboretum. The theme was pollinators and the tree was filled with bee skeps, bees made of peanuts, bats, hummingbirds, and many other pollinating insects. As always, the members tried to use as many natural or hand crafted items as possible to represent the pollinators. The brainstorming is always hot, even if the greenhouses are cool. A special thanks to Shirley Erickson, Bev Haas, Nora Stewart, and everyone else that added their creative juices.
Jan Strand once again hosted our holiday party on December 5. We had a wonderful meal of various dishes the members made and a fun gift exchange. It’s always nice to get together socially and not have business to discuss.
There were a few other things to mention that occurred in 2016. Our website was completely revamped and many thanks to Carla Jefferson who spearheaded that project. Now our website, blog, and calendar of events are on one site that is easy to navigate & update. It also offers prospective members a quick way to join using their credit card. Speaking of credit cards, we now have a Square payment method that can be used at our sales. People can now buy more of our product using credit cards. In May, the Minnesota Herb Society made a contribution to the Arborertum for the building of a path in the Cloister Herb Garden. The path was for a a beautiful Urn & Pedestal which were given in honor of Wayne Kiefer by his family. Unfortunately in November, our Newsletter editor, Anne McKinsey, resigned from her position. She has opted to take a little time to pursue her own interests, but you’ll continue to see her smiling face around. Thank You Anne for your dedication and work over the past several years.
Finally, I cannot express enough, how much I appreciate all the hard work that our members do and have done to keep the Minnesota Herb Society running smoothly. While occasionally there is a bump in the road, it is all of you that keep the Herb Society such a great organization. I remember thinking when I first joined the Minnesota Herb Society, that there was so much knowledge in the heads of all you Herbies. I have made some wonderful friends thru the Minnesota Herb Society and it has been an honor to serve as your President.
Garden On Herbies! Garden On!
Bonnie Hector, President