One of the most rewarding aspects of gardening is being able to share your experiences with others. If you're interested in meeting others in your area with a passion for plants, consider joining a garden club, or better yet, starting one of your own.
Step #1: Find Members
This is easier than you might think. Because you're a gardener, you already know where your fellow gardeners are likely to hang out-nurseries, garden centers, botanical gardens, libraries and book stores (the garden section, of course), parks, and coffee shops. Many of these places will be happy to let you post flyers and information on how to join for free. Don't forget organic restaurants, food co-ops, and environmental stores, feed centers, community gardens, and community centers. If you live in a community that publishes weekly shoppers or alternative newspapers, consider taking out a small classified ad to solicit members.
Step #2: Set Up a Place & Time to Meet
Try and be as flexible as possible when setting up a time for your new club to meet. You can set the date and time for the first meeting, but after that, it's up to the club to determine what day and time works best. People are busy, so try to keep the group flexible and alternate meeting dates and times if necessary.
Free meeting rooms are usually available at libraries or community centers with advance reservations. Local nurseries might be willing to donate space in exchange for free advertising to club members. You may even approach them about offering discounts to members.
If you or someone in your group turns out to be computer savvy, consider setting up a simple website or blog to make communicating between meetings easier. This is also a great place to post announcements, photos, event reminders and can help your club attract new members. At the very least, be sure to that everyone is given member contact information.
Step #3: Define Club Goals Your club will need to decide if it wants to consist of formal format or a more casual format. Formal clubs usually charge dues, elect officers, draw up by-laws and may affiliate themselves with larger, established groups like the National Garden Club or the Federated Garden Club of America. These affiliations bring benefits like invitations to conferences and specially arranged tours and access to well-known speakers and mentors.
Maybe you just want to get together with other gardeners in your neighborhood to exchange seeds or plants. Clubs don't have to have a rigid format to be successful. Maybe you want to help educate the community about specific gardening practices (organic) or participate in charitable work (beautifying a community park). Whatever your club defines as goals, remember to have fun!
Step #4: Network with Local Resources
After your club forms, make sure you introduce yourself to the community. Network with local resources like country extension agencies, colleges and universities and local nurseries and garden centers. Let others know what your club is all about and who can be contacted to answer questions or respond to inquiries. Find out what resources may be of benefit to the members of your club, and what your club can offer to others in the community.
Joining An Existing Club
If joining an existing club sounds more appealing than starting one from scratch, try doing a quick web search for gardening clubs on the web. Garden forums and chat rooms are also good ways to find gardeners from your area-at least from your same zone. Nurseries, garden centers and extension agencies are usually also tuned in to what is going on in your area.
Whether starting your own club, or joining one that is already established, you'll enjoy the encouragement you receive from others, learn better ways to beautify your environment and get acquainted with like-minded folks in your community.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com
Your timing to post this is right on! I was asked just last week to help organize a new garden club in our city. We've had our organizational meeting a few days ago and the first club meeting is planned. Now, advertizing is being done and then in a few weeks we'll see how many can come to the first club meeting. It will be exciting to see how we grow.
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