Kent Plantation House Herb Day Sale: They Sold Fast

ALEXANDRIA, LA (AP) — Spring is here, which means everything is growing.

         That includes herbs — especially in popularity — as the Kent Plantation House's recent annual Herb Day proved.

         "It's just the in thing now," said Alice Scarborough, director at the Kent House. "I just saw a lady that bought a whole round table full of herbs, and she's just starting her herb beds."

         The annual sale began 20 years ago, long before herbs were trendy. And it is something the community has come to anticipate.

         "We always have really good herbs so people look forward to it," Scarborough said. "They start calling, asking, 'when's herb day?'"

         It's usually during the first weekend in April but was bumped up by the Easter holiday.

         Less than an hour after the sale kicked off, cars overflowed from the parking lot into the streets.

         Nearly 3,000 herb seedlings filled tables and tents lining the acres behind the house. Outside vendors also brought plants, foods and handmade goodies of all kinds, as did gardeners from the rose, daylily and orchid societies came as well.

         "We love the opportunity to have a little sale with the Kent House," said Marilyn Wellan from the Cenla Rose Society. "We usually get close to sold out."

         But there is still a reason it is called herb day.

         "We have experts to talk about planting the herbs, growing them, harvesting them and how to use them afterwards," Scarborough said. "Some come just for the arts and crafts. Mostly it's just for the herbs."

         Sherrell Bozeman from the Cenla Herb Society was one, explaining how to plant, grow, harvest and use herbs.

         "Our membership is growing," Bozeman said. "So to me that lets us know that yes, there is more interest in herbs."

         She said the group brought more herbs to sell than in previous years.

         "You can use herbs to season your food instead of using salt or the stuff that's not good for you,” she said “It's a healthier way to flavor your food."

         Big sellers included rosemary, sage, thyme and bay. Basil is the most popular because it is good on salad, tomatoes and sandwiches, Bozeman said, and it also can be used to make oil, vinegar or salad dressing.

         And that is not all herbs come in handy for.

         "They have so much to add to anything, because they're fragrant, you cook with them,” Bozeman said. “It just adds to anything that you have. Even rosemary. If you just walk by, and touch and smell it. The aromatherapy of herbs, they have so many versatile uses."

         Kent House has two herb sales each year. One is in the spring, and the other is in the fall.

         "They're both very exciting, but spring is especially exciting," Scarborough said. "Because everybody's ready to plant. There are many more things you can plant in the spring."

         The spring crowd is typically around 2,000, and fall is about half that.

         "Some people come back and buy to replace whatever they've lost over the winter," Scarborough said. "Some people are just starting out."

         Wellan had advice for newcomers, "If you're not here by 8 o'clock, you're late."

         An hour later, tables already looked sparse.

         – by AP/ Reporter Miranda Quartemont with The Town Talk

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