New guide provides Alaska herb information

Barbara Fay’s grandmother introduced her to aromatic herbs. Fay held the basket while her grandmother picked garden herbs and tucked the extras in her granddaughter’s braids. “I would smell them all day,” she said.

Barbara Fay tends her hydroponic herb garden at her home. Photo by Hollis Fay
Barbara Fay tends her hydroponic herb garden at her home. Photo by Hollis Fay

After moving to Fairbanks in 1967, Fay read up on herbs, tested different varieties in her garden and began teaching classes with a friend in their homes. They talked about folklore and growing and cooking with herbs, and they served a five-course meal.

Horticulturist Pat Holloway invited her to plant an herb bed and to research varieties in the Georgeson Botanical Garden. Over time, Fay recruited other gardeners, who formed the “Herb Bunch” and continued the work.

Fay’s class materials and research from the garden formed the framework for a new 76-page guide on Alaska herbs published by Extension.

An Alaska Herb Garden features a section by Holloway on cultivating herbs and information about harvesting, storing and using herbs. It includes recipes collected for Fay’s classes and by Herb Bunch members Virginia Damron and Marsha Munsell. Home economist Roxie Dinstel tested recipes and edited the guide.

Holloway said the guide will be a great asset to gardeners and others interested in herbs. She credits Fay. “This is her idea, her baby. She is the one who got us all riled up about herbs.”

  • Copies of An Alaska Herb Garden are available from Cooperative Extension offices or by calling 877-520-5211.
  • Recipes and detailed information are available for 25 herbs, including anise hyssop, arugula, basil, borage, calendula, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, lemon balm, lemon verbena, lovage, marjoram, Mexican mint marigold, mint, nasturtium, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, sorrel, sweet woodruff, tarragon and thyme.