The Farm Tour has many “favorites”—farms that get 500-600 visitors each day, where kids can ogle giant hogs, pecking chickens, and herding-dog puppies. But not all Farm Tourists enjoy wading through a crowd for Mapleview Ice Cream or trekking past multiple pastures to gather eggs at the Fickle Creek Egg Mobile. Want to get away from the hubbub? Head to the southwest corner of the tour for a peaceful visit to Suki Roth’s Herb Haven.
This is Suki’s first year back on the tour in her new location. “After I sign up, I think I’m insane, but I love being on the Farm Tour,” Suki says. She’s worked hard to get Herb Haven up-and-running since she moved in 2008. She’s replanted natural habitats and added medicinal herbs to the landscaping. The six-acre setting is protected in a bowl of land—it wasn’t flat enough to clear for fields, so many old hardwoods survive. Down a long driveway, you’ll pass a nice-sized garden with raised beds before arriving at the house. There is a lower pasture area, but the rest is woods.
Suki acknowledges a local nonprofit, SWOOP, for their help relocating her garden. “If it wasn’t for them,” she recalls, “I’d still be working on the garden.” Based in Raleigh, Strong Women Organizing Outrageous Projects (SWOOP) began as a group of women friends helping each other clean up after Hurricane Fran in 1996. The women decided to keep going after their own yards were fixed; they now have 1100 members and do monthly clean-up projects. A $25,000 grant has enabled their “Ramp It Up” program: building wheelchair ramps for those in need. (Learn more here.)
In 2009, Suki applied to SWOOP for help. A representative came to her house to assess the project. SWOOP mostly works with nonprofits, but Suki explained her work as a mentor and teacher, and the herbal products she sells at health food stores and donates to nonprofits, and they agreed to take on her garden as a project. Thirty-four women came out one Saturday from 8 AM to 6 PM. A neighbor had cleared brush with his tractor; SWOOP cleared paths and tilled the ground. “The main challenge of that project was the deer fence,” remembers Lisa Wilson, Co-Executive Director of SWOOP.
“SWOOP was excellent,” says Suki. “I can’t say enough about them.” Suki bought the fence materials, rented an auger, and provided lunch for the SWOOP volunteers. “You all [Weaver Street Market] donated fifty dollars worth of bread, and my friends cooked a fabulous concoction of vegan and vegetarian healthy foods,” she recalls. “A lot of the women didn’t know what they were eating, but they liked it.”
Stop by Herb Haven on the Farm Tour and join Suki on an ongoing herb walk in the garden. Some of her students will be on hand selling Suki’s teas, salves, and tinctures. You can also visit her apothecary in the basement, where she makes Suki’s Blends: herbal teas like Cold and Flu Tea and Gentle Detox Chai, tinctures of medicine extracted from plants, compound tinctures like Sleep Tight and UTI Relief, and oils and salves like Miracle Mend. Suki’s favorite part of her job is, “I get to work with all these wonderful plants, and get to talk to people about them all the time.” The Farm Tour is a great chance to meet Suki.
Learn more about Suki, her workshops, classes, and herb walks, and her consultations at her website. Many of Suki’s teas and tinctures are available at Weaver Street Market in Carrboro and Hillsborough.