Herb-An Sprawl

Greensboro’s popular herb sale transplants to downtown digs


It was thyme for a change.

A few years ago, a thriving patch of herb enthusiasts — the Greensboro-based North Carolina Unit of the Herb Society of America — had outgrown the site of its annual spring sale. But the idea of uprooting a 30-year tradition, and the group’s biggest fundraiser, from the Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church caused the wringing of many garden-gloved hands.

“It was a big move for us,” says longtime member Kathy Schlosser. “People knew where we were and how to find us.”

Come Thursday, April 16, followers can sniff out the re-homed sale, literally, at the newly renovated Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, where live plants will blanket the former armory, producing a free aromatherapy session. “It smells fabulous when you walk in,” Schlosser says.

The sale sprouted just a couple of years after the local unit — still the state’s only chapter of the national organization — was founded in 1982. It was a heady time for herbs. French-born nouvelle cuisine had landed in America, and Martha Stewart’s Entertaining, had just hit the shelves.

Riding the wave of savory, Greensboro herbies potted their own plants to hawk from a member’s garage. A couple of springs later, they transplanted the sale to the fellowship hall of the Greek church, where it flourished. Local commercial growers were contracted to meet the demand of some 800 customers.

This year, as always, growers will truck in the usual suspects — need we sing the line from Scarborough Fair? — along with many varieties of fan-favorite basil, and harder to find plants such as cardamom, marjoram, lemon verbena, bee balm, lovage and bay.

The Heritage Plants section will offer other selections from the members’ gardens, and vendors will sell beeswax candles, garden sculptures, tools and the like.  Proceeds from the sale will used to fund club projects such as community college scholarships, the Edible Garden at the Greensboro Children’s Museum, and the Healing Gardens at Cone Health Cancer Center.

In a time when voluntary groups struggle to gain and retain followers, the herb society holds steady with nearly 80 members.
“I think what holds us together is we all love to have our hands in the dirt,” Schlosser reflects. “But it’s not just gardening. We care for each other.”

Herbs to live by.  OH

— Maria Johnson

See disclaimer page 25. For more information go to ncherbsociety.org.

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