By Peggy Riccio, HSA Member
If you are interested in herbs you may want to participate in #herbchat, an herb-focused Twitter chat. A Twitter chat is when people tweet about a particular topic using a hashtag. By using the hashtag, participants can tweet—talk—to each other and stay on topic. Most twitter chats occur for one hour at a set date and time, have a moderator, and stick to a predetermined theme. Participating in a twitter chat is like talking with your friends in the living room while being aware that through the windows, others on social media may be able to watch you and hear what you have to say.
Geri Laufer has moderated #herbchat for more than 7 years. “I love Twitter,” said Geri, “I started #herbchat in November 2011 when at the time, Bren Haas started #gardenchat and Corona Tools started #treechat, #plantchat, and #landscapechat but there was nothing about herbs.”
Geri announces the month’s topics in advance via Facebook (herbchat). Every Thursday at 2 p.m. ET, anyone can jump in the conversation. People also can post photos related to the conversation. Since Twitter is global there may be participants from other parts of the world, there may be “regulars” who participate every Thursday, and there may be “lurkers,” people who read but do not comment.
“I have 50 lurkers each time, they follow the hashtag but don’t tweet and participate in the conversation but that is okay, they learn something,” she says.
Since #herbchat is weekly, I asked Geri if it was difficult to come up with new topics. January alone has 5 Thursdays: January 3: new herb varieties for 2019; January 10: herbal resolutions for 2019; January 17: more new varieties for 2019; January 24: seed swaps; and January 31: seed starting methods, what’s yours.
laughed and said that suggestions for topics are welcome. Fortunately, Geri is well versed in herbs so she is able to identify and contribute to most topics. She said that one of her favorite topics was songs with herbs in them. “We had ‘Scarborough Fair’ of course but people were so clever and inventive and dreamed up these other songs so it was fun.”
Geri’s love of gardening and herbs began as a child, raised in an organic gardening family. “My family always cooked with and grew herbs,” Geri said. “My gardening Grandmother was a big influence because she would let me do the fun stuff and did not ask me to weed so I did not grow up with bad connotations about gardening.” Geri always has been particularly interested in herbs because she suspects she has a bad sense of smell but is able to detect the herbs’ pungent fragrances.
Geri has been an Herb Society of America member for 40+ years. While studying for her Masters of Science degree in Horticulture at Rutgers University, she was a member at large. After she graduated and moved to Atlanta, she tried to change her membership status to join a local unit only to discover there was no unit in her state. Undeterred, she founded the Chattahoochee Unit which still meets today.
Armed with her degree, Geri began working as a Cobb County extension agent, was part of the team that initiated the first Atlanta Master Gardener program, and then taught horticultural classes as an adjunct professor at Gwinnett Technical Institute. She served on the Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG) Board of Trustees for many years until the ABG hired her as the public relations manager. Currently, Geri manages GardenGeri, her own public relations and social media company for horticulture companies, including Corona Garden Tools and Crabapple LandscapExperts.
Some of you may know Geri as author of Tussie-Mussies, a very successful book that has been reprinted and printed in paperback. Geri obtained an Herb Society of America grant to conduct the research, visiting rare book rooms in libraries across the country. She also is a former co-editor of HSA’s The Herbarist, gives lectures and presentations on gardening and herbs, and has written more than 200 articles for consumer and trade publications. Geri also wrote the section on herbs for Allan Armitage’s app, Great Garden Plants.
If you are interested in participating on #herbchat, visit the Facebook site to learn of upcoming topics or just jump right in next Thursday at 2 p.m. ET.
Peggy Riccio is a member of the Potomac Unit of HSA. Peggy publishes a free monthly newsletter, Pegplant’s Post, which features local gardening events, new books, articles, tips, and a giveaway. Visit her website, pegplant.com.