Saturday, April 17, 2010

On Herbs and Things

My cousin, E- is a "community herbalist" and has her own practice consisting of people who seek her out to cure their ills, using natural methods. For a long time, E- was actually a registered nurse, until in later years she broke her foot and ended up on an extended leave from her job, and found herbs. Now, she delights in growing pots of weedy looking things I've never heard of, and making salves and ointments. Anyway, for the past year she's been enthusiastically singing the virtues of her main herb supplier, a family business run out of some green houses next to a home called King's Herb Nook. E- loves their organically grown herbs, loves their little shop of hand made soaps and salves, and loves the King family. Now, I'm not much into herbs, and tend to just grow a couple pots of parsley, thyme, and other assorted cooking herbs, and start the seeds myself. I couldn't imagine what all the fuss was about, but promised E- that the next time I was in the area of the Herb Nook that I would stop in and pay a visit.

So one fine day of shopping, I found myself driving down the pleasingly hilly road on the way to the thrift shop when I saw the cheerful sign welcoming customers.

Pulling into the gravel driveway, a little boy pushing a lawnmower and some wash on the line were the only signs of life. My first thought was, my, this really is a remarkable collection of herbs. Anything you could think of and many you've never heard of were spread out in flats throughout several green houses and outdoor tables. It was not my intention to buy anything, until I saw every herb I had ever wanted to try, all young and healthy.

Soon, the owner greeted me and as we were chatting I found both the owner and her mother to be very congenial and helpful. We never even got around to discussing mutual acquaintances as I was so full of questions and they were so full of knowledge. And that is how I found myself at the cash register with lemon verbena, oregano, rosemary, chives, and an heirloom tomato plant all for less than I would have spent on seeds. Yes, that little shop really is a gem.

So this year I am increasing my herb garden to include new plants with my old favorites. This was so timely as I had this planter I wanted to fill....
...and if you think the planter might resemble a crock pot, you are right. A few weeks ago the stoneware insert for my six quart sprung a fracture in the bottom, making it impossible to use for cooking. But surely it would be good for something else?

While I'm mentioning new favorite places, I'd like to give a mention to an old favorite that happens to be just ten minutes from the Nook. It's a little grocery store- Hershey's Farm market.

Here is what I love about this store: Even though it is tiny, it has tons of great buys, old local brands that you don't see too many other places, and fresh vegetables. The meat selection is ridiculously large for such a small store, and high quality. All these things mean a lot since the large chain market where I do most of our shopping has recently scaled back their selection and raised their prices so they can open a "wine and spirit shop" inside the store. Yet, this little store thrives. Hershey's market is located not too far from a large Wal Mart with a packed parking lot, but there are only a few people at any give time in Hershey's. So when you are shopping there, it makes you feel like you know some great shopping secret that the masses down the street don't know about. (I shop at Wal Mart too, but this little treasure of a store would be my first stop.)

Amish farm, Morgantown, PA


  1. I wanna go!!! I've always wanted to grow herbs and my sister even gave me a start-your-own-herb-garden kit and I STILL didn't do it. Then I gripe when I spend $$ on what I need. Those place both look and sound adorable ~ mom & pop stores and locals always get my vote over the big guys. I've never tried herbs for healing, have you? I don't think I'd know where to start! That was just way too cute ~ ♥

  2. Beth, the only time I tried something herbal as a medicine, the results were disastrous. But it probably works for some people.

  3. Face Down in CoffeeApril 18, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    I have been trying to remember to take red raspberry leaf (NOT in tea form) for "female health". Maybe if I remembered consistently, it'd have some benefits.

  4. Lucky you! I wish I had a bargain herb-shopping spot near me. I need to get my supply going for the season. I think only my chives and thyme survived the winter. I need at least some peppermint, basil, and rosemary, if not more.

    That farm picture at the bottom of the posting is beautiful! Is that in your area, too, or did you take it on a trip?

  5. That is the cutest sign I've ever seen..Sounds like you got lots of good deals..And I noticed she had great tags.. And the meat store sounds great.. Morgantown is a nice place...

  6. I would love to explore your little gem of an herb shop, I love herbs. Alas, I don't live in your state, but thanks for sharing your adventure with us. ~Irene

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