South Jersey Unit
The South Jersey Unit is a non-profit organization and a local unit of the Herb Society of America. We are dedicated to promoting the knowledge, use and delight of herbs through educational programs, research and sharing the experience of its members with the community.
The South Jersey Unit meets monthly (except July and August) throughout the southern half of NJ and, as our membership expands, so does our territory. Meeting locations for the 2008 - 2009 fiscal year include sites in Gloucester Co., Camden Co., Burlington Co., and Cape May Co. We meet in town community centers, libraries, churches, garden centers, and we sometimes even just set up lawn chairs at gardens we're visiting and have open-air meetings. Speakers are herbal professionals that are experts in their field and/or South Jersey Unit members who have herbal knowledge to share. Seventy-five percent of our meetings are open to the public to help fulfill our mission of herbal education.
Lorraine Kiefer founded our unit in 1997. She is a local educator and co-partner with her son, Joe Kiefer, of Triple Oaks Nursery and Herb Garden, Franklinville, NJ. A few years prior to our formation she attempted to start a South Jersey unit with the help of her friends Barbara Bruno and Joanna Reed but their plans took a while to take root. We now have a very active group (both genders) of approximately 35 members.
Our unit publishes a quarterly newsletter, "The Herb Basket", that highlights member activities, herbal book and movie reviews, recipes, recommended websites, and gardening tips. We have a lending library of herb books donated by members of our unit. We maintain an herb garden at Scotland Run Park (Clayton, NJ, Gloucester County) located outside the front door of the nature center. The Gloucester County Naturalist uses our garden in her presentations to school children, scout troops and the general public who visit the park.
When we want to explore herbs in more detail, we form study groups. Some of them have been the study of medieval monastic herbs, herbs native to New Jersey, culinary herbs, and herbal teas around the world. We have various fundraisers throughout the year and the biggest is an herbal tea party held every February around Valentine's Day. The money raised goes to a yearly scholarship we give to a local horticultural student, to buy plants for our garden, to finance the professional speakers we hire for our programs, and other worthy causes.