Thursday, October 9, 2008

What are you doing for HerbDay?

HerbDay is coordinated series of independently produced public educational events celebrating the importance of herbs and herbalism. HerbDay was conceived of by five nonprofit organizations with interests in herbs and herbalism to raise public awareness about the significance of herbs in our lives and the many ways herbs can be used safely and creatively for health, beauty care, and culinary enjoyment. In 2008, HerbDay will be held on Saturday October 11th. People wishing to hold an herb-related event can register their event with the HerbDay organization but they are not required to. Check out the HerbDay website for a schedule of events to see if there is a registered event being held near you.

Since the event is young and still growing you may not find an event being held near you. If that is the case, you can still celebrate HerbDay. Go to your favorite local park with woodland hiking trails and look for wild herb plants. They will be all around you. A good book to take on your travels would be Peterson’s A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Of Eastern and Central North America by Duke and Foster. It is my one of my favorite books on herbs. You may also wish to take a list of some plants to look for. Here is an Herb List for Western NY State (PDF document) that I put together which includes many wild herb plants as well as a few garden herb plants that you may come across in your travels. It is by no means a complete or exhaustive list but it should give you a starting place. And please remember to NOT pick the plants you find unless you have permission and KNOW exactly what you are picking. That warning is as much for your safety as it is for stewardship of wild places and plants. Besides poisonous and toxic plants, there are many wild medicinal plants that are at risk from overharvesting. See United Plant Savers for more information on 'at-risk' medicinal plants.

If stomping through the wilds is not your cup of tea, perhaps you could plan an herb garden for next year. Your herb garden could feature culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, follow a theme, or any other thing that strikes your fancy. There are many books on herb gardening and your local library or the RCGC's Horticultural Library can certainly help locate one of these books for you. But if you need something to get you thinking now, I wrote an article Starting an Herb Garden which may be of interest to you.

However you wish to spend HerbDay, I hope you enjoy yourself and at least give pause to consider all the wonderful things herbs have given human beings down through the millennia.