By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
Karen Diaz has a passion for herbalism that stems from her roots as the granddaughter of braceros and farmers from rural Jalisco, Mexico. (If you don’t know the word “bracero,” look it up. It’s a fascinating part of history.)
An educator, she is bringing that history into third to fifth grade classrooms at 6th Street Elementary School in Silver City, New Mexico.
“For generations my family has used herbs as a form of healing, medicine, and food,” say Diaz. “As I became involved in environmental justice and community organizing, I was drawn back to my roots of connecting to herbs as a tool for teaching and incorporating them into local food systems.”
6th Street Elementary is one of nine schools to receive HSA’s Donald Samull Classroom Herb Garden Grant. The grant is funded by a bequest from the estate of Donald Samull, an elementary school teacher who used his love of herbs in the classroom with his students, grades three to six.
Diaz’s classroom was one of five that received $200 to establish an outdoor herb garden. An additional four received monies for indoor herb gardens.
“I plan to establish an herbal medicinal garden with my students where we would also have lessons pertaining to how these herbs were traditionally used by cultures native to rural Grant County, which would include the Apache tribe and Mexican people,” says Diaz. “I also want to highlight ethnobotany, history, science, art, and math concepts in my lesson plans with my 3rd to 5th graders.”
2015-2016 Award recipients:
Indoor Herb Garden
- Bailey Middle School Cornelius, NC
- Evergreen Middle School Brooklyn, NY
- Jere Whitston Elementary School Cookville, TN
- Albert Hall School Waterville, ME
Outdoor Herb Garden
- Douglas Elementary Tyler, TX
- Dahlonegah Public School Stilwell, OK
- 6th Street Elementary Silver City, NM
- Simonton Elementary School Lawrenceville, GA
- South Side Elementary Nuseum Magnet School Miami, FL
“I am amazed at the number of applications we receive each year for this grant,” says Katrinka Morgan, executive director of HSA. “Mr. Samull inspired when he taught and continues to inspire. We are honored to continue to share his love of herbs through this grant program.“