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For Kim Avila, it was her first time at the Settlers, Inc. plant and herb sale in downtown Fort Wayne. But her excursion proved fruitful, as the Fort Wayne resident left with several outdoor plants, as well as $24 worth of herbs for her kitchen, including rosemary, sage, and thyme.

Done at the historic Swinney home, located at 1424 W. Jefferson Blvd., the annual plant and herb sale this year lasted through the weekend, from Friday May 3 to Sunday, May 5.

“We just love doing it,” said Norene Brown, co-chair of the Settlers’ herb garden. “We have so many nice people come through for this event.”
Almost the entire house was utilized for the sale, according to Brown, including the house’s first and second floors, as well as the basement and the property’s back yard.

The sale actually began in the 1970s, when members of the Settlers group brought in cuttings and diggings from their own gardens and yards.

Back then, according to Brown, the sale only occupied the two front parlors of the Settlers home. This year, the whole historic home was taken over by the sale. “It’s so busy, we’ll be sold out by Saturday,” Brown noted on Friday.

To welcome guests, the Settlers offered snacks of cookies, punch, and what they called “Settler Tea.” On Friday, the sale also hosted music from the Heartstone Ensemble. The group performed early Americana songs with vocals, the dulcimer, and the tin flute.

Now done on a much larger scale, the sale this year offered commercially-grown plants and herbs, including basil, thyme, lavender, rosemary, parsley, dill, mint and even catnip. Plants offered ranged from iris, double lilies, lilies of the valley, squill, solon seal, ajuga, fever few, anise, hyssop, violets, Japanese anemone, sweet woodruff, and yarrow, Brown said.

Settlers Inc. has been around since 1971, using costumed members to teach local folks about early American life, including the domestic arts, folklore, mechanics, and many other skills needed to survive in colonial America.

In 1980, the Settlers leased and moved into the Swinney House and began teaching classes there in what they call “an historical, elegant setting.” The home is owned by the city of Fort Wayne and is on the National Historic Register.

Avila was just happy to have come, she said.

“It was very simple to understand,” said Avila, a Fort Wayne resident. “And everyone was very friendly. We had a great time.”

Michael Morrissey

Michael Morrissey

Michael is a professional writer and journalist. He attended South Side High School and Northwestern University. He has written for newspapers in Michigan City, Indiana; Pekin, Illinois; and Bradenton, Florida. He also has written for and edited websites in Florida and San Francisco, California. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer