As the year comes to a close, I look back at my presidency with pride and satisfaction at all the accomplishments we as an association have achieved! I am further awed and humbled by all of the volunteers, board members and chairs who made these endeavors possible.
From a rich history of successful enterprises, we knew how capable we could be. We survived the Covid years, relying largely on pop up plant sales. But our member base was reduced and we didn’t have the resources we once had. This year was our opportunity to make a comeback, and we needed to take a different approach.
After many discussions, meetings, and a lot of finger crossing, we pulled off the Spring Garden Fair (SGF), a one-day event. It took many Master Gardener volunteers, as well as the wonderful Class of 2023, to make it a great success by growing and selling plants, carting wagons and parking cars.
The Greenhouses were cleaned up by the Practicum Mentors after three years of disuse. They became the Practicum classroom, propagation workspaces, Mosaic Glass Art workshop and home of SGF Plant sales and the Fall Festival! With the help of volunteers, the Native Plant Nursery also expanded to increase production. Under the supervision of Lynn Kunstman, it now provides a steady stream of income for the Association and Practicum, while spreading the word of the importance of native plantings in the home garden.
On the gardens side, two new beautiful, large interpretive signs were commissioned for the Water Catchment System and the newly renamed Native Plant Garden (replacing the Rain Garden). Both of these areas serve as teaching platforms to demonstrate our mission, namely sustainability in a changing environment. We also had new enthusiasm in the Demonstration Gardens, with many of the student apprentices taking on major roles under or in place of absent GEMS. Areas that had been decommissioned, like the compost area and Dahlia Garden, have been cleaned up for future new projects. The Garden Enhancement Committee created a beautiful cut-flower garden in the Gathering Area that serves as a meeting place for garden tours from the local garden clubs and a place of rest and snacks for the hard-working gardeners on Wednesdays. Even the Fig Grove got a good cleanup and a thick layer of chips!
The Member Services Working Group had a booth at several public events, getting us in the public eye once again. It is hoped that next year we will be able to maintain a weekly booth at the Growers Market with Plant Clinic and MG information. Anyone can volunteer at this booth. Any questions will be recorded and the Plant Clinic will get back to the person with a response.
Our Community Outreach Working Group has reestablished connections with School and Community Gardens and worked to replenish the Speakers Bureau. The Marketing and Technology Working Group (formerly Communications) is busy updating the website, creating links and making it more user-friendly, and keeping us current on Facebook.
All in all, it’s been a wonderful year. I am looking forward to seeing how much more we will do in the year ahead. Plans include a two-day Spring Garden Fair on extension grounds, enticing more visitors to the gardens with Garden Tours, and perhaps a “Friends of the Gardens” group for those who want to come out to help but are not ready to take the full class. It will be a year of change, with Alec Levin’s new plans for the grounds. We will have a big part in the planning, which is exciting!
I want to thank everyone who made my job easier and gave me the support that I needed. I have been honored to work with such an amazing group of caring, smart, and wonderful people. This is truly my community, and I wish all of you Happy Holidays and a healthy and prosperous New Year. See you in ’24!