Giving Back: Memphis Herb Society

Giving Back: Memphis Herb Society

Founded in 1986, the mission of the Memphis Herb Society is to promote the knowledge, use and delight of herbs through educational programs, research, and sharing the experience of its members with the community. “As an herb society I feel like our mission is truly education and outreach to the community” says past President, Reni Erskine. Members have an opportunity to grow their knowledge of herbs by volunteering at The Memphis Botanic Garden Plant Sale, the Master Gardeners ‘Through the Garden Gate’ Tour, Cooper Young Garden Walk or by getting their hands dirty helping tend to the one-acre ethno-botanical herb garden at Memphis Botanic Garden.

A key component of Memphis Herb Society’s commitment to the community is its annual allocation of Herban Renewal Grants. Each year the grant cycle opens in November, funding decisions are made in March and grants are awarded in April-- just in time for planting. Priority is given to organizations or individuals who are dedicated to growing herbs for educational or beautification purposes. Last year recipients of the Herban Renewal Grants included Highland Oaks Elementary Learning Garden, Eleanor Roosevelt Garden at Douglass High School and Marshall County Master Gardeners Educational Herb Garden. “We don’t just stay in Shelby County, we really cover the tri-state area. If it’s a worthy project we are happy to promote it,” says Erskine.

Looking toward the future, sustainability from both an organizational and environmental perspective is a top priority for Memphis Herb Society’s leadership. Members and visitors are encouraged to garden in a respectful way by being stewards of the environment and using sustainable techniques and sound horticultural practices. Increasing the number of members and raising awareness for the organization is also a priority. “We have a lot of knowledgeable members who are willing to mentor novice gardeners. We would like to see more people come out to the herb garden and get to know us and experience the joy of herb gardening first-hand,” comments sitting President, Jennifer Stanek. To eliminate barriers to entry, Memphis Herb Society intentionally keeps its dues low. A member pays only $25 for programming and a year of connecting with other herb loving Memphians! Volunteer opportunities are free for anyone.

Although undoubtedly a passionate gardener, it is not necessarily the herbs that have made Erskine’s time in the society so worthwhile. Instead, the relationships and connections made are what really stand out as she reminisces upon her time serving as past President. “As I look back over the years, I feel such joy because of the people I’ve met; they’ve been so kind and helpful to me. I’ve learned so much from Sherri McCalla, the curator of the Memphis Botanic Garden’s herb garden, past Presidents and other knowledgeable members,” she reflects.

Those who are interested in learning more about Memphis Herb Society can visit their Facebook page at, or visit their new website at and subscribe to their newsletter, The Herbal Thymes, to receive updates on upcoming events, gardening tips, tasty recipes and volunteer opportunities. This group of herb enthusiasts meets at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at Memphis Botanical Garden and welcomes both visitors and members alike to join them for refreshments, socializing, and herb-themed programming.

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