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816-Lancaster Farming, Saturday, June 13, 1998
The Herrs live on the farm that has been in Fred’s family since the 1700 s. The 80
acres has been divided, with the Herrs keeping 40 of them for Sassafras Farms. “Give
me enough time, and I'll have nothing left to mow,” Fred joked at the many requests
his wife makes for additional flower beds complete with curves and indentations.
More Than 140 Herbs Grow
At Sassafras Farms
LOU ANN GOOD
Lancaster Fanning Staff
WILLOW STREET (Lancaster
Co.) Herb usage seems to be
sweeping the country. What is
folklore and what is fact concern
ing the benefits of herb usage?
Ask Carol Hot. She grows and
sells 140 different kinds of herbs
on the family’s Sassafras Farms in
Herbs, according to Carol, is
any plant with a fragrance, a flavor
that can be used as medicine, as a
pesticide or as a color or textile.
She offers expert advice in herb
usage. For five years, she has
taught adult educational classes
and lectured on herb gardening,
culinary usage, and aroma therapy
for baths, potpourri, and decorat
ing with herbs. She lectures on her-
Jjal folklore and writes a column
Jfor Penn State.
r While ginseng. St John’s wort,
■and other herbs are making head
lines as cure alls for many ail
ments, Carol frowns on growing
herbs for medicinal purposes. She
cautions that growers have little
control over the strength of herbs,
which varies greatly from the plant
itself, how and when it is
harvested, and on the soil and
After hours of research, the couple built a 20x100-feet greenhouse within 10 days.
It’s a hoop house with a double layer plastic that has an air inf lator system between the
layers. “Between the two of us, there Isnl much we don’t tackle,” Carol said.
In addition, some medicinal
mixtures are extracted from roots,
some from plant leaves, and some
from stems. It is often difficult to
know which part or how much to
Herbs are often impractical to
grow for medicinal purposes. In
the case of ginseng, which is
harvested from the roots, it takes
five to seven years before it can be
harvested, and then only a small
amount can be extracted.
Carol apd her husband Fred
traveled all over the country look
ing for unusual herbs to offer to
customers at Sassafras Farms.
“For years, our vacations
always included stops to pick up
exotic herbs,” Carol said.
She has an unusual herb called
horsetail, which is a long winding
herb in which a piece is broken off
and used for sandpaper and to
“Herbs are so forgiving. Not
many pests bother them. When
planted outdoors, you never need
to fertilize or water them—
although you can to make them
grow better but the oils will
weaken. They grow best in full sun
and poor soil/People can kill herbs
by overwatering them,” Carol said.
In addition, just because a plant
is touted as being a perennial
doesn’t necessarily mean it is a
perennial in this area, according to
“Like lemon grass, it can be
grown here, butit won’t grow back
the following year,” Carol said.
Parsley is a biennial plant that
actually should be planted annual
ly, otherwise it bolts to seed.
The Herrs live on the farm that
has been in Fred’s family since the
1700 s. The 80 acres has been
divided and the Herrs are keeping
“We didn’t have the money to
invest in big equipment, but we
wanted to do something with the
land,” Carol said of the perennials,
annuals, and herbs raised and sold
at the farm.
After Fred sold his business and
purchased the farm, the couple sat
down and discussed, “what are we
going to do with the rest of our
“I always wanted a green
house.” Carol said. Fred asked if
she could make it pay for itself.
Carol thought she could.
After hours of research, the cou
ple built a 20x100-feet greenhouse
Carol offers expert advice in heib usage. For five years,
she has taught adult educational classes and lectured on
herb gardening, culinary usage, herbal folklore, and aroma
therapy for baths, potpourri, and decorating with herbs.
She also writes a herb column for Penn State.
within 10 days. It’s a hoop house
with a double layer plastic that has
an air inflator system between the
Her love for gardening was
instilled from walking in front of
her grandfather while harrowing.
“He must have had the patience
of Job,” Carol said of now realiz
ing the inconvenience of having a
child help do chores.
Her cooking interest was
sparked from her aunt
“No offense to my mother, but I
grew up in the 1960 s when TV din
ners were in vogue,” Carol said.
Her lack of cooking instruction as
a child hasn’t been a drawback as
an adult Over the years, she has
won several blue ribbons for her
pies at the West Lampeter Fair.
Carol has been a master garden
er since 1992. She furthered her
knowledge by devouring books
and taking additional courses
through vo-tech and Penn State.
“Between the two of us, there
isn’t much we don’t tackle.” Carol
Fred raises homing pigeons,
quail, partridges, chickens, ban
tams, and brittany hunting dogs.
Fred said that he has been rais
ing pigeons from the time he was
12 years old and sells them private
ly. He also is a amateur taxider
mist He rebuilts farm equipment
The large stone forebay barn has
three date stones, with the oldest
dated in 1791. The bam makes a
nice area for the marketing of the
herbs and perennials. Part of the
bam is used for herbal arrange
ments and to hang plants from the
rafters for drying.
Some of the gift items include
bath bags, used for aroma therapy.
Herbs are placed in a muslim bag
to dangle from the shower head.
The aroma that comes out cap have
a refreshing, softening, or stimu
lating effect, depending on the
The large double house was
built in 1881 by Fred’s great
grandparents. The Herr’s daughter
and family live in the one part
The Herrs have three adult
children and one grandchild. Their
6-year-old grandson is a big help
with the herb operation.
“He knows the good bugs from
the bad ones, and weeds from
plants,” his grandmother said.
For those who have trouble dif
ferentiating between weeds and
plants, Carol’s advice is to let it
grow and see what comes up.
“A lot of people think goldenrod
is a weed, but others like it as a
plant in the flower bed. Grandpa,
who fought goldenrod for years,
would turn over in his grave if he
knew I was growing it here,” Carol
When asked to name her favo
rite herbs, Carol declined by say
ing, "That’s like having six child
ren and you’ll ask to pick the five
you want to keep.”
The name Sassasfras Farms was
derived from the sassafras trees
growing on the land.
*T get nothing done but pulling
up sassafras,” Carol said of the
plants that continually replant.
Numerous herb and flower beds
are strategically placed in the yard.
A kitchen herb garden is right off
the kitchen porch. Plans are in pro
cess for a dye garden, a German
(Turn to Pag* B 18)