Johnson Family

Herbs for Healthful Living and the Johnson Family are excited to reintroduce the age-old tradition of apple butter making to the 2023 Shaker Woods Festival! This reintroduction includes active crowd participation, on-site historical education, and best of all…No Sugar Added Apple Butter! You will certainly want to bring the whole family by to see what’s new in their booth (#194) this year. While you are there shopping for the finest innovative and tradition herbal products” be sure to grab a slice of homemade bread topped with fresh apple butter. It would be wise to take a few jars home with you as apple butter makes a fantastic gift!

Making Apple Butter dates back as far as the Middle Ages. The birth of this tradition originated in Limburg, a region of Europe formed by the ethnic blending of the German, Belgium and Dutch People. This tradition was eventually carried to the “New World” by those who we now know as the Pennsylvania German Dutch.

Apple Butter was and is a way of using and preserving all parts of a season’s bounty. As the traditional saying goes, “Waste not, Want Not.”

During harvest season, bruised or windfallen apples would be separated, cut and cooked down in a copper kettle.  Most importantly, the kettle would be continuously stirred with a specially designed long handled paddle.  This paddle was fashioned with holes on the blade, which allowed the apple butter to flow easier thus preventing scorching.

As was tradition, the elders would sit in a circle to cut and peel the apples, tossing them into a copper kettle at the center. They engaged in telling stories and sharing good conversations.  The younger took the responsibility of stirring the kettle.  If one stepped away, then another stepped in to take their place. The paddle never stopped moving! Making apple butter was an annual occurrence that was greatly anticipated within the community. This tradition is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when we work together: A shared duty along with a shared reward.

Cultural preservation is something that has always been important to the Johnson family.  They passionately believe in the “festival way of life” and actively work to preserve and this fact.

Founded in 1980 by Allan and Nora Johnson, Herbs for Healthful living is a multi-generational family-oriented business that is focused on providing high quality hand milled products in small batches. These hand-crafted products include culinary spices, cosmetics, soaps, medicinals, natural wares and folk art.

This season marks Herbs for Healthful Living’s 41st consecutive year at Shaker Woods Festival. This milestone would not have been possible without you, our wonderful patrons. By continuing to support this festival you are also participating in the preservation of the culture of these ways. Folk art festivals create a space where we can buy, sell and share information with our neighbors. Buying directly from the artist makes a difference, it creates the foundation of our community.

We believe in continuing to celebrate and support folk art of all kinds. As a family of folk artists, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve this community and look forward to seeing you all in the upcoming weekends in booth #194!


Johnson Family   Johnson Family    Johnson Family