An exciting year ahead by Ruth Ridley

New ways forward for the Herb Society

Back in the Winter, I answered an ad in Herbs magazine to help the Herb Society with social media. This had been identified as an important area for the future growth of the organisation, and I am happy to help as I use Facebook and Twitter myself everyday for work.

It is a tough time for plant organisations in the UK, and it only takes a visit to the Charities Commission website to see this. For example the Alpine Garden Society income dropped by approximately 25% between 2012 and 2013. The Hardy Plant Society in their July 2013 newsletter expressed “concern over falling membership”. It is for this reason that we have been very keen to find out how we can keep our existing membership happy, and at the same time attract newcomers.

So, this January the Herb Society commissioned a random phone poll of our members, and were pleased to find that well over a hundred people were happy to give the time to talk. Overall, the members seemed very pleased to be contacted, and generally happy with the society. They seemed equally interested in the medicinal, horticultural and culinary aspects of herbs, and were keen to learn more through the magazine and other channels. Below is a summary of the findings.

herb society phone poll

To discuss these findings, the committee planned a meeting at the NFU Mutual (our sponsors) headquarters in Stratford-Upon-Avon. As the newbie I was invited along to meet everyone. Although I have been a member for about five years, I had not met any other members, and was relieved to find such a friendly group of people! Carole McKellar (Resources for Business) ran the day-long meeting very efficiently and with a smile throughout!

NFU building cropped
The NFU Mutual kindly provided accommodation and meeting facilities

We spent an exciting day discussing how to take the Society forward, in terms of its aims and aspirations, as well as how to adapt for the future. Post-it notes in abundance!

herb society committee
Carole helping organise thoughts for the future

Part of the proposed new way forward for the Society includes a new website which should go live later this year. In the meantime, the existing website is being kept up to date with news and events. A stronger social media presence is also now taking shape as evidenced by this new blog! Hopefully this new tech-savvy approach will attract a new generation of budding herb enthusiasts. Do check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for regular updates of our activities.

herb society people
Some Herb Society people L-R: Gwenneth Heyking (Acting Chair); Barbara Depledge (Local Groups); Malcolm Dickson (Hon Treasurer); Ruth Ridley (new Social Media Advisor); Peter Depledge (Company Secretary); Igor Heyking (IT Media Consultant)

Thanks to the information provided in the phone poll, and the work of some enthusiastic members, we are pleased to be pushing the Herb Society forward. We are aiming at greater publicity in order to grow our membership, enabling us to interact further with the wider community in terms of education and support.

If you are not a member and would like to find out more about joining, do follow this link for more information about benefits:

If you are like me, and have been a member for a while without getting involved, why not get in touch? We are always looking for voluntary help, and it’s a great way of meeting people. Let us know if you have a particular area of expertise that might be useful, or if you would like to start a local herb group. Look out for specific pleas for help in the magazine, or email with a bit about yourself.

Here’s to a great year ahead!

Written by Ruth (Social Media Advisor and herb enthusiast).