The Herb is the Word

Melissa Amato

Lettuce Fall into Love with Nature


Fall. It’s the time of year when we have a little reprieve from the sweltering heat that is the lovely Louisiana Summer.  Fall comes with all sorts of perks and festivals are one of them.  In particular, the Fall Herb Festival hosted by the St. Tammany Master Gardeners, a program offered by the LSU AgCenter, Friends of the Slidell Library and the St. Tammany Parish Library on the grounds of the Slidell Library.  This year’s theme was “Lettuce” fall into herbs.  There were demonstrations, tasting stations, speakers and children’s activities so, there is a little bit of free fun for everyone twice a year. 

“Push here for the stinger” the box says.  I notice a box full of bees sitting on top of a table with the humorous sign.  Julian Lane provided an inside look of what a River Region bee keeper does at the Herb Fest.  “It takes a lot to get going but, it is enjoyable” states Mr. Lane referring to his labor of love which is beekeeping.  Once questioned about the theory of eating local honey to overcome local allergies, he stated “You have to make sure the honey has the current nectar to tackle the current allergens.”  That is very informative for all of us allergy sufferers out there. 

Many vendors attended the event including Nicole Freire and Donna McGill of Slidell Nursery, Linda Franzo with Passionate Platter and the Friends of the Library set up a tent to sell used garden books.  Nick Usner spoke about “Greens to grow for the fall organic garden” which is great for all of us who know nothing about gardening but love eating healthy. 

“What is that green stuff?” I asked as Dinah Keyes and Nancy Griffin poured refreshing drinks for us.  She stated “it is a kale and pear smoothie.”  “No thank you” I stated.  I’ll stick to the mint lemonade, which by the way was absolutely refreshing.    Salads, hummus, tzatziki and more were available for tasting with the recipe nearby for you to take home.  What a great way to explore fresh new tastes than at the Herb Fest!

The cheerios were for the bird feeders but, my kids were hungry for a snack so they decided to improvise from their bird feeder.  Sue Stoltz and Leslie Jones were very helpful with this craft by making a bee bird feeder out of a few pipe cleaners and a couple googly eyes.  Also, there was an activity to plant a seed in an ice cream cone, place the seeds and cover it with dirt.  The ice cream cone can easily be placed in the ground while also providing a food source for the plant. 

The garden that is on the right side of the library is an herb and butterfly garden.  Each month they are tended by volunteers that are the Master Gardeners.  June Taffaro, Slidell Library Herb Chairman, and the entire staff of volunteers were extremely knowledgeable and kind to even a black thumb like me.  Each Spring and Fall, the festival is focused on the tasting of fruits, veggies and herbs.  So, the next time you stop by the library, notice that those plants have purpose and aren’t just a pretty plant. 

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