Discover something new
Herb festivals tend to offer a much larger variety of plants than you'll find at the "big box" chain stores or even local nurseries. At a recent herb festival, I was on a limited budget but the variety was so large, I had a hard time limiting my purchases. I finally gave up and bought a fig tree for my parents. Herbs aren't just for cooking. They are also used in cosmetics, medicine and crafts. Even the rose is considered an herb, and its "hips" (seed pods) are used to make a delicious tea that is high in vitamin C.
Support your local economy and farmers
An herb festival gives local gardeners, craftspeople and farmers a public venue. When you attend a local festival, you are giving hope and support to the farmers in your neighborhood.
Meet other garden-minded people
Typically, herb festivals attract an eclectic group of people with one thing in common; an interest in herbs. Many of these visitors love to share gardening stories or tips. Those of us that who love plants are sometimes looked at strangely by non-gardeners, unless, of course, they are lined up for a share of the Little Red Hen's produce. You will probably either learn a lot or teach a lot. Of course, you could always introduce your new gardening friends to Dave's Garden.
Learn something new
As a result of attending some herb festivals, I found a lavender farm near my home, a source of local honey, and a variety of small local farms, including a goat farm. Interestingly, I saw my sister-in-law at an herb fair; which is how I learned that she makes homemade soaps. I also attended a few classes during the festival where I learned about the caring for and using specific herbs, making fun garden crafts and attracting butterflies and birds to my yard.
Teach others what you know
An herb festival is an opportunity to share your knowledge of plants with others. The more information we share, the more our fascination with plants will grow. I hope that the next few generations will learn about gardening. Just a century ago, the average person was familiar with growing plants, milking cows and goats, and preserving food, but much of that common knowledge has faded away. Today's generation knows about high-tech gadgets, eating fast food and Twittering. What do you know about plants? Can you help others learn more?
Time to sell?
If you are growing more produce than you can use, maybe it is time to find out about selling your excess. Do you know how to grow certain plants and have more than enough to sell a couple dozen or even a couple hundred plants? Some herb festivals are hosted by local farms and "no competition" may be the rule. But other festivals are hosted by groups or are fund-raisers. Of course, check out the fees and rules before you agree to participate in the event.
More than herbs
At its most basic, an herb show gives away knowledge and sells plants. Often the plant selection isn't limited to just herbs, although hundreds of herbs are generally available. Fruits, vegetable seedlings and flower plants are typically available also. Depending on the festival, craft items and other homemade treasures may be found for sale, too.
I hope this article encourages you to check out information for a local herbal festival. Dave's Garden provides Go Gardening, an excellent resource to find local gardening resources.
(Oh, and if you did not find the green hand in the picture, it is right above the first letter in "Festival.")
Looking for an herb festival near you? Here are some herb or herb-oriented gatherings and their 2009 dates:
Glen Allen, VA
A Thyme to Plant at Lavender Fields Herb Farm - Classes, candle making, herbs, veggies and flowers for sale, bee keeping demo. (May 15-16, 2009)
Fort Worth, TX
Tarrant County Master Gardener Community/Demonstration Garden - Learn about herbs and herb gardens (May 20, 2009)
Fruitful Harvest Farm - Will be selling a large assortment of herbs and flowers. Refreshments will be served. (May 21, 2009, noon to 5 pm)
Pettibone Creek Farm - Heirloom tomato, pepper and herb plants for sale. Prices start at just $2 (May 23-24, 2009)
The Health Shoppe Organic Local Market - Learn about making things from "weeds". (May 27, 2009)
Quaker Hill Farm - Come to a class to learn about herbs. (May 29, 2009)
Mildreds' Daughters Urban Farm - Purchase from a large selection of herbs, including mints, dill, fennel, chives, sage, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, arugula, cilantro and more. (May 29-30, 2009)