“When we first envisioned it (in 2006) we really felt that there needs to be an acknowledgement, a celebration of the important role that herbs play in human health,” Roy Upton, founder of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia told NutraIngredients-USA. “Remember, most of the country has very little a concept that there is an alternative medical system out there for them.
“Herbs have been such an important part of all cultures literally since human beings have existed. It stands to reason we should celebrate the existence of the plants that allow us to exist,” he said.
Upton was part of the brain trust that gave birth to the event, according to Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council (ABC).
"The idea started with Roy Upton, Aviva Romm of the American Herbalists Guild and Michael McGuffin of the American Herbal Products Association. Then they brought in ABC and UPS (United Plant Savers)," he said.
“The idea was to set up a series of local event nationally to increase consumer awareness about the rich history and the role of herbs in our lives and the increased role they could have. You can name almost any disease or issue and there is a day or month for that. Herbs didn’t have that,” Blumenthal said.
Saturday’s scheduled events include lectures and workshops, herb walks, in-store cooking demonstrations, presentations by herbal product companies, and herbal-themed children's activities. The activities are planned at retail stores, schools, farms, botanical gardens, garden centers, and public parks worldwide, on and during the weeks preceding and following May 4.
"Greater familiarity with herbs will increase informed use of herbal products and build public support for maintaining personal choice in the use of botanicals," said David LaLuzerne , who oversees the HerbDay celebration at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, WI.
Schedule of events
Additional events are being planned and added to the HerbDay website, www.herbday.org. This year, scheduled events include:
- The U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory in Washington, DC will host a celebration of herbs, including demonstrations, activities, and information tables throughout the conservatory. Additionally, the Potomac Unit of the Herb Society of America will feature an herbal beads display and demonstrations, herbal tea tastings and make-your-own herbal tea bags, as well as the opportunity to create your own herbal skin lotion. The Pennsylvania Heartland and the Philadelphia Units of the Herb Society of America will present an exhibit on elder (Sambucus spp.), the International Herb Association Herb of the Year.
- The American Botanical Council in Austin, TX will host herb walks in 26 herb-themed gardens and herb talks in its education annex, as well as a plant and book sale, refreshments, a Maypole, and a children's planting activity.
- ArborVitae School of Traditional Herbalism in New York will host a full day of free workshops, demonstrations, and herb walks through the market and gardens. There will be a diverse range of teachers and presenters, with both adult and kid-friendly activities.
- Hidden Lake Gardens in Tipton, MI will host demonstrations on how to include herbs in gardens and cooking, vendors with plants and products, and activities for the young-at-heart.
- The Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, WI will host kids' herbal activities with two HerbDay talks: "Herbal Teas for Kids" and "Kids and Seeds for a Greener Future." There will also be a kids' activity tour.