Wednesday, February 6, 2008

How to Start a Gardening Club...and Why!

About ten years ago I saw a small announcement in the local newspaper stating that a gardening club was holding a wreath making event that would be open to the public at a cost of $10 for supplies. I went to the event and enjoyed the people so much that I asked if I could join their club. They said yes and I paid my first membership dues of $5 that night. Before I joined the average age of the gardeners was at least 60 and I was in my early 20's. My hubby would giggle and say, "My wife isn't here right now she's at her old ladies club." However, I wasn't the only young gardener who wanted to learn from these wonderful ladies in only 10 years the club has gone from the 7 original members to 40! And I'm from a small community. Truthfully, I would never have dreamed that there were even close to 40 other gardens in my area.

Now, I tell you all this to get the WHY of why you should be a member of a garden club. While I love the internet it does pose some limitations. One of the biggest benefits of my membership into my garden club has been free plants. Many I had never heard of. Many I would never would have tried to purchase. If you are a gardener with a shoestring budget being in a garden club is a great way to try new varieties with very little risk. Although, it is difficult to admit to your club friends when you've killed their plant. LOL. How do you get free plants? My garden club holds two annual plant swaps. If you bring 5 plants you take 5 home, bring 2 take 2, etc. There is never a disappointed customer!
That just leaves us with the How.
  1. Well, first check to see if there is a local club. Although many small community clubs (like mine) may not choose to be part of a national club.
  2. So what to do now. Ask your local nursery. Small nurseries (who are forced compete with Lowes and HomeDepot) often know of local gardening clubs. If after asking around you've determined there is no club to be found...Start one! It's worth it for you and your community.
  3. Ask your small nursery if they would be willing to allow some of their loyal customers to meet at their store for an hour or two once a month. The store reaps the benefits of their best customers returning (and probably shopping) and they offer a service that other small nurseries don't.
  4. If they agree then run off a stack of flyer's stating the time and date and mission of the new club to put in the shopping bags of shoppers. You'll be surprised how many gardeners are looking for someone to talk to.

Gardening can be a very isolating hobby and a Gardening Club is a great way to meet local people who are dealing with the same soil, pests, and growing climate as you are. And more importantly, a great way to share your Gardening Triumps!


Apple said...

Only three months until the first plant swap! I should have a bumper crop of foxglove to trade.

Pam/Digging said...

Great advice. Your club of 40 in a small town sounds amazing.

The garden bloggers in Austin have become so numerous (about 18 at last count) that we've sort of coalesced into our own garden club. We email each other when we have volunteers, transplants, and seeds to give away, and we enjoy meeting and touring each other's gardens.