They give zest to our cooking, zing to our teas and luscious tang to our baked goods. Herbs are much more a fixture in our lives then we realize.
This year, the Trumbull County Herb Society turns 20. The group was founded by Trumbull County residents Betty Bailes and Nancy Kovach on Sept. 28, 1992.
Kovach retired from Packard Electric and General Motors in 1991 and started the Trumbull County Herb Society with some of her co-workers. Kovach is also a member of the Master Gardeners of Ohio.
Photos special to the Tribune Chronicle
Trumbull County Herb Society officers, from left, Donna Green, president; Peggy Ferenchak, first vice president; Barbara Petroff, second vice president; Carol Goetz, treasurer; Elaine Bertalasio, assistant treasurer; Elaine Zahurak, recording secretary; and Yvonne Franks, corresponding secretary.
"We wanted to get something new to Trumbull County," Kovach said.
Donna Green, of Mecca, president of the society, said its mission is to educate the members as well as the public about the uses of herbs. Green said the society discusses how herbs are used in foods, for medicinal purposes and for their scent.
"At meetings, one of our own members will report on the herb of the month," she said. "They will research the herb and talk about all herbs."
The Trumbull Herb Society meets at 7 p.m. the third Monday of each month at the Trumbull County Agriculture and Education Center, 520 W. Main St., Cortland.
Kovach said that one of the most interesting subjects that emerge when talking about herbs is the folklore behind them.
"We look up the history of herbs and what country uses that herb when we discuss the herb of the month at meetings," Kovach said.
"We talk about the most common herbs such as basil, lavender and dill, and also the less popular herbs such as savory and tarragon," Green said.
Kovach said, "I know that when people start talking about herbs, people will say, 'I remember my grandmother or grandfather used this herb as a remedy.'"
Kovach said it's fascinating to learn about the historic meaning of herbs.
"It's amazing what one can learn from people and what they used in Europe," she said. "We have a lot of doctors and teachers in our group, and it's interesting to learn from people. I have learned so many things from the members of our group."
Herbs seem to be a part of life - from cooking to everyday items in the medicine cabinet.
"Most medications are made from herbs," Kovach said. "Thyme is in Listerine, and mint is in toothpaste. A lot of flowers are edible. Fennel is good for digestive problems."
Kovach said the society has 47 active members.
"Twelve of our members belong to the Master Gardener's program, which is through Ohio State University," Kovach said.
Kovach said that the members of the society range in age from their late 20s to their early 90s. She said there are three or four mother-and-daughter pairs in the society.
Rita Baugher, of Southington, has been a member of the Trumbull County Herb Society for 14 years.
Baugher said that the society plants a variety of herbs in the gardens of the Trumbull County Agriculture and Family Education Center in Cortland.
"One part of the garden contains a pizza seasoning section, and then we have tomato plants and standard herbs," she said. "The Trumbull County Herb Society is remarkable. This society is a great niche for people who love to garden."
Marilyn Hodory, of Howland, is the society's historian. Hodory has been involved in the society for five years.
Hodory has her own herb garden at home where she plants basil, parsley, peppermint, chives, oregano, sage and thyme.
"Everything is edible when you make a garden," she said. "A garden is an edible landscape."
Green said the society is greatly involved in the community and belongs to the Trumbull County Garden Forum.
Kovach said that the society's main project right now is maintaining the herb gardens at the John Stark Edwards House and Museum, 303 Monroe St. N.W., Warren.
The group also is working on "The Trumbull County Herb Society Herbal Cookbook," which will be published in July. Kovach said that most of the recipes in the cookbook are from its members.