At Moravian Manor Communities, the Herbal Society is spicing up retirement living in Lititz. Residents Sue Burrell and Lucy Meinsler, founding members of the society, sought to create an herb and edible flower garden for the chefs to use in a variety of dishes served in the Owl’s Nest Restaurant. The resident-initiated collaboration’s mission also includes providing programs such as how to cook with herbs, incorporate herbs in flower gardens, use herbs in craft projects, and more. In addition to zesting up the menu at MMC, the society also is seasoning up the lives of residents who take turns watering and maintaining the garden.

Herbal Society co-founder Sue Burrell, an elementary school teacher with a love for gardening, was pulled down a different career path by her passion for gardening. Susan inquired about an open position at JB Hostetter, True Value Hardware, and helped build up its garden center business and ultimately became the full-time buyer and manager of the garden center. While Sue did not have a formal education in horticulture, she was self-taught and continued her education by enrolling in various classes. Sue retired from JB Hostetter with 30-years’ experience. Susan recalled “one of proud Mom moments was when my son, who initially attended college to be a school guidance counselor, decided to follow in my footsteps and pursue a career in landscape architecture.”

For co-founder Lucy, she discovered her passion for herbs while living in Connecticut as a frequent visitor to Caprilands Herb Farm, whose owner was a nationally known expert and author on herbs. After moving to Pennsylvania, Lucy continued her interest by attending talks and classes on herbs and gardening sponsored by the Penn State Extension Service in Lebanon. Lucy enjoys applying what she has learned while she is cooking and experimenting with different herbs. 

Sue and Lucy connected at a campus program on herbs, discovered their common interest, and the Herbal Society bloomed to life. With a background in association management and meeting planning Lucy enjoys writing and distributing the monthly Herbal Thymes newsletter for the society and works with Sue to develop workshops and presentations for its members. Most recently, they coordinated a cooking demonstration with Executive Chef Derek Miller, of the Owl’s Nest. Using fresh herbs from the garden, Derek prepared salmon cakes w/fish sauce and a vanilla shake with chocolate mint. Delicious!