Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:00pm

Herb Talk at PMH

Sponsored by: New Haven Museum

Master gardener and herbalist Carole Barber’s will present “The Role of Herbs in an Early American Household.” at the Pardee-Morris House (PMH) on Sunday, August 20, at 2 p.m.  A lively and informative presentation in the PMH herb garden, the free event will also include a hands-on project: creating sachets for guests to take home using lavender, marigold, hyssop, mint and other fragrant dried herbs.

From antimicrobials to anti-inflammatories, Connecticut gardens were once bursting with homegrown treatments for many ailments and injuries. Barber will discuss the herbs likely used by the Morris family— the residents of the Pardee-Morris House, which was burned by the British in 1779—and by the herbalists who often used centuries-old recipes for remarkably effective treatments. She’ll also highlight the ways various parts of herbs were used for different complaints, showing examples growing at PMH and from her own garden.

Barber notes that though the colonists didn’t understand why certain plants were effective, they knew they worked. She cites the example of comfrey, which was chopped, cooked, made into a poultice, and applied to cuts. Our ancestors knew only that adding lavender to the poultice helped ease the pain and hasten healing. We now know this is due to lavender’s analgesic and antiseptic properties.

With her awareness of how engaged our forebears were with herbs and plants, Barber admits she can be discouraged by her peers’ disconnection with the natural world, noting it is to their detriment. An increasing body of research lends credibility to Barber’s claim; numerous studies cite the positive physical and emotional benefits reaped when one reconnects with nature, whether through gardening or walking in the woods. A 2015 study at Stanford University showed that a 90-minute walk in a natural environment led to lower levels of brooding, or focusing on negative thoughts, and reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness, suggesting that access to nature may be crucial for mental health in a rapidly urbanizing world.

The solution, Barber says, starts with one person at a time being encouraged to touch, feel, and smell what grows around them, and knowing how to identify plants. She explains that with so many generations removed from the natural world, a lack of knowledge developed into fear and sometimes, loathing, of native plants and “weeds.” Barber says, “Growing up, so often we’ve been told, ‘Don’t touch that, it might be poisonous!’” She adds, “Wouldn’t it make more sense to learn which plants are poisonous rather than fear them all, and lose touch with our intrinsic need for nature?” Armed with a greater appreciation of plants, and their many benefits, perhaps people will be more likely to step from the pavement to something greener, and be happier, and healthier, as a result.

Barber is a master gardener through the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension Program and an accredited organic land care professional through the North American Organic Farmers Association. She attends conferences across New England on native plants, rain gardens, watersheds, ecosystems, soils, lawn alternatives, native food sources and foraging. Her business, Herb Garden Naturals, created in 2008, produces handcrafted soaps, skins creams, insect repellants, etc. with many ingredients from her own herb garden. She is also a beekeeper, award-winning pastry chef, poet, artist, crafter and martial artist. Her current focus is creating presentations for the public on herbs and their centuries-old importance to people. 

The Museum thanks the Knights of Columbus, Rodrigo Council #44, East Shore Management Team, and Morris Cove neighbors, including the DeCola Family, Frank Pinto and Rosemary Spring, for supporting the 2017 summer season.

For a complete list of summer events at the Pardee-Morris House, visit: http://newhavenmuseum.org/visit/pardee-morris-house/. For New Haven Museum’s event calendar: http://newhavenmuseum.org/visit/events-calendar/ Sign up for e-blasts at info@newhavenmuseum.org, or call the New Haven Museum at 203-562-4183. 

About the Pardee-Morris House
Located at 325 Lighthouse Road, in New Haven, the Pardee-Morris House dates from about 1780, and is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places. Built by Amos Morris around 1750, the house was burned by the British during their raid on New Haven in 1779, and rebuilt and expanded by the Morris family. In 1918, William Pardee, a descendant of the Morris family, willed the property to the New Haven Colony Historical Society, today the New Haven Museum.

About the New Haven Museum
The New Haven Museum, founded in 1862 as the New Haven Colony Historical Society, is located in downtown New Haven at 114 Whitney Avenue. The Museum collects, preserves and interprets the history and heritage of Greater New Haven and through its collections, exhibitions, programs and outreach brings more than 375 years of the Elm City’s history to life. For more information visit www.newhavenmuseum.org or facebook.com/NewHavenMuseum or call 203-562-4183.

Admission: Free
Pardee-Morris House
325 Lighthouse Road
New Haven
get directions

more info »