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Kitchen Gardening

Michigan Herb Enthusiasts Get Hoppy

The Herb of the Year took center stage at the Michigan Herb Associates conference in Lansing this spring. Attendees got the chance to celebrate hops in several tasty ways.

A highlight of the 31st annual Michigan Herb Associates conference was the chance to taste test seven different made-in-Michigan craft beers. The beer tasting helped celebrate hops, the 2018 Herb of the Year.
Photo/Illustration: Michigan Herb Associates

Herb enthusiasts in Michigan had the chance to celebrate the Herb of the Year while raising money for a good cause at the Michigan Herb Associates conference this spring. Attendees helped raise $3000 for Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens with a silent auction and herbal plant sale. 

The theme of this year’s event was “Every Plant is a Teacher” and hops, the International Herb Association’s Herb of the Year, had a starring role at the conference. Guest speakers talked about hops as an important ingredient for brewing beer, ideas for decorating with hops, and growing and using medicinal herbs.

A highlight of the 31st annual conference was the beer tasting. Following MSU associate professor Norm Lownds’ presentation on aromatic herbs for brewing beer, attendees had the chance to put their new knowledge to the test — the taste test. Seven different Michigan-made craft beers were on hand to sample and compare the different flavors. 

Lownds is also the curator of the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens. The Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University donated the herbs for the plant sale.

Another popular hops-themed event was the “Hopping around Locally” tour of area restaurants. Herb lovers had the opportunity to experience how chefs are using craft beers in new and different ways.

Seven herb associations received special recognition for excellence in sharing herbal knowledge through local programming. The associations include:

  • University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum Evening Herb Study Group, Ann Arbor
  • Olde Thyme Herb Society of Bay County, Bay City
  • Herb Society of America, Southern Michigan Unit, Bloomfield Hills
  • Wexford County Herb Society, Cadillac
  • Midwest Michigan Herb Association, Clarksville
  • Village Herb Associates at Greenfield Village, Dearborn
  • Shoreline Herbarist, Gowen

Michigan area vegetable and herb gardeners can learn more about the Michigan Herb Associates and plan ahead for next year’s conference. 

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