From the current (MarApr) issue of The Essential Herbal Magazine:
Celebrate International Women’s day the Herbie Way!
Each year around the world, International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.
Organizations, governments, charities and women's groups around the world choose different themes each year that reflect global and local gender issues.
The 2012 Theme: CONNECTING GIRLS, INSPIRING FUTURES
If every International Women's Day event held in 2012 includes girls in some way, then thousands of minds will be inspired globally.
I read an article by Arlene Manturano and put together this program idea I thought I would share. It would be great with a girl scout troop or similar organization or even with your own family or home school group.
Around the World with Aromatic Herbs
My herb and spice cabinet conjures thoughts of faraway places and long ago events. The mere whiff of an herb can evoke a memorable meal: my grandmother’s Thanksgiving turkey dressing (sage), and mother’s long cook roast beef (bay, marjoram) or my favorite soothing blend with chamomile given to me when I was sick as a child.
Herbs speak to our first, most primitive and direct sense, smell. A scent is an instant message and memory. The search for mysterious and magical scents from herbs and spices spawned the Age of Exploration. Early explorers found the world to be a highly scented map. Immigrants not only transplanted their families to new places but also brought their native herbs to grow and use in new lands.
Students can simulate the Age of Exploration by growing herbs, drying them, and researching their native habitat and present-day growing grounds. In the process, they reenact the migratory path of herbs now seasoning the globe. Their findings can be represented in herb-scented maps, aromatic reminders of Vasco da Gama, DeSoto, Columbus, and Magellan among other adventurers who for over two centuries of unprecedented exploration charted the map of the world we know.
Each herb is native to somewhere on Earth. However, the native habitat is not necessarily the country known for using the herb in its cuisine or where commercial quantities for worldwide distribution are grown today. For example, basil is native to India although best known for use in Italian cuisine. Today’s major commercial supplies of basil are grown not in India or Italy but in Egypt’s Nile River Valley. There are many excellent books on herbs with historical data for students to use but also direct them to the websites of commercial growers like McCormick, Spice Islands, and C.F. Sauer and the Herb Society of America.
Growing herbs from seed is easy indoors under florescent lights or along walls of windows. Some herbs like rosemary are easy to propagate from cuttings. When seedlings are 2-3 inches transplant to 2-by-2 inch pots.
As plants mature, students should snip stems and bundle them for drying. Hang bundles upside down in a sunless dry location with good air circulation.
Cool and fun hardy herbs for the fall outdoor garden include bay laurel, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme along with chervil, chives, garlic chives, oregano, salad burnet, and winter savory.
If growing herbs isn’t an option, mapping the world in native herbs is still possible with an instant alternative – containers of dry herbs from the home pantry or grocery store shelf. One can play with aromas.
Draw or trace the native country of the herb on cardstock or drawing paper. Cut out the map and print the country and names of native herbs on the map. Spread a thin layer of craft glue across the map and sprinkle dried herbs for that country atop the glue. Allow 24 hours for the map to dry before covering the entire surface with clear contact paper or laminating film. Punch a hole in the top of the map to attach a yarn loop or braid in the country’s flag colors. Construct a trade route by hanging herb-scented maps throughout the classroom, or send maps home to scent kitchens.
Growing aromatic herbs with children brings history to life by opening a memorable route to learning about the distant past and contemporary seasonings.
References on the History of Herbs
“A Kid’s Guide to How Herbs Grow” by Patricia Ayers
“A Kid’s Herb Book: For Children of All Ages” by Leslie Tierra
“Herbs for Use and for Delight” edited by Daniel J. Foley
“The Encyclopedia of Herbs” by Arthur O. Tucker and Thomas DeBaggio
“This Noble Harvest” by Anne O. Dowden
“Walking the World in Wonder: A Children’s Herbal” by Ellen E. Hopman