MOUNTAIN VIEW — Savory, sweet, spicy and minty are a few of the tasty reasons cooks use herbs in their food, but this year’s Herb of the Year has more uses than just adding flavor in the kitchen.
The International Herb Association has identified Artemisia as the 2014 Herb of the Year, and the Ozark Folk Center will celebrate the herb family as part of Herb Day on Saturday.
Artemisia is a genus of plants that includes specific species such as the insect-repelling wormwood, flavorful tarragon and decorative Silver King.
In the Ozarks during the pioneer days — the time period portrayed by the folk center — wormwood would have been especially important for keeping moths away from socks and clothing that would have been in danger of being eaten by the insects.
“The wormwood has an essential oil that naturally repels moths,” said Tina Marie Wilcox, chief herbalist
and head gardener at the folk center. “We have textile artists here who make items that would attract moths, so the wormwood would be important to their craft, especially in the olden days.”
Wilcox said the Herb Spring Extravaganza and National Herb Day at the folk center will feature opportunities to learn about and purchase different species of Artemisia.
At the folk center, Wilcox uses ornamental wormwood, southernwood, Silver King and Silver Queen to decorate while repelling insects. The Skillet — the restaurant at the folk center — uses French tarragon to flavor salad dressing and other food items.
“Our cooks are constantly out there picking the herbs for the food,” Wilcox said.
The folk center also has Sweet Annie, an annual that has been used in craft herbal wreaths and as a treatment for cancer and malaria.
“Nationally, Herb Day is a celebration of beneficial plants,” Wilcox said. “We will be in the company of many people talking about Artemisia across the country.”
At the folk center that day, the Committee of 100’s Herb Garden Committee will serve herbal refreshments in the Herb Cabin from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tours of the garden at the folk center will occur at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and will begin at the Herb Shoppe.
Additionally, the seventh annual Ozark Seed Swap will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The seed swap, co-sponsored by Conserving Arkansas’ Agricultural Heritage, was originally scheduled for February but was postponed because of inclement weather. The seed swap is a free event during which gardeners can bring open-pollinated
seeds to trade with others.
Craft admission tickets are required for all activities occurring inside the folk center’s Craft Village. Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for children 6 to 12. Children 5 and younger will be admitted free.
Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.