One of the last beautiful days of fall provided the perfect backdrop to discuss the two-year anniversary of the aptly named Three Rivers West Fargo Garden Club, the one and only of its kind in the community.
When West Fargoan and current club president Barbara Keyes tossed the idea out there to initially form such a club in September of 2011, her expectations were realistically modest. She was hoping for a few good women and men with an interest in gardening to rally for the cause.
Today she considers those expectations met, pleased that a growing membership now rests at about 25, with 12 to 15 of those showing up for the regular monthly meetings held the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the West Fargo Public Works building at 810 12th Ave. N.W. or alternate meeting sites to tour a greenhouse or garden.
In fact, their next meeting is set for tomorrow night with Chiwon Lee, Ph.D. presenting the program on “Hydroponics,” the art of growing plants without soil, basically in liquid infused with fertilizers. Those attending will have a real treat in store, the opportunity to taste hydroponic lettuce, grown by a startup company in Jamestown, N.D.
The club is open to anyone who has a passion for gardening from novice to master status with a mission of promoting gardening and education to enhance the beauty of the community by focusing on horticultural arts and assisting residents with their gardens.
Always on the lookout for new members, the meetings are open to anyone with an interest in gardening as well as bring-along friends, always encouraged to share ideas and join in the discussion. By majority, Keyes admits it is more of a “ladies’ club” noting that guys who have attended in the past really are interested but have too many other outside interests and don’t keep coming back.
There is no membership charge, but those joining are asked for a $10 donation to help defray program expenses and the like.
Juliet Hanratty and Jan Murphy, both of West Fargo, join Keyes in the officer ranks as vice president and secretary-treasurer respectively.
January 1 new officers, yet to be announced, will be taking over duties.
Keyes said reaching the two-year milestone is gratifying from the achievement and people-meeting standpoint as well as all the new educational information gleaned from the highly touted sharing process.
“We all learn so much from each other and are always looking for program topic ideas,” she stated. “We like to secure speakers based on membership input. Last month we asked all our members to jot down ideas of what they would like to learn.”
She said “some speakers also lead to other speakers. We’ve had several NDSU Plant Sciences Department personnel as speakers and local nurserymen providing tours and educating the members on their new plant introductions in the spring.”
The club is also trying to zero in on a few extra public service projects but find it a little difficult to find projects that are suitable to the group’s size.
They have held a couple of plant sales featuring their personally nurtured plants, using the funding wherever appropriate for the club’s enhancement; have been involved in taking care of the plants at the library during the course of the summer in conjunction with the school children’s summer reading program; have participated in some garden-related trips; and when the weather cooperated, held “show and tell” meetings in a member’s backyard, sharing their creativity and new ideas.
Hanratty has been overseeing the summer Yard of the Month selections with photographs published monthly in the West Fargo Pioneer and News featuring the expertise of community gardeners with standout beautification talents.
Hanratty is no newcomer to the cause with 30 years of gardening to her credit. When she heard of plans for the West Fargo club she jumped at the opportunity to get on board. “When I joined the club I realized there was so much more I could learn. It was so interesting. It opened up a whole new world of gardening and I quickly discovered there were other plants to try. Attending the meetings and finding out what others were doing and the educational part is all so great.”
Murphy, also a longtime gardening enthusiast, said she couldn’t agree more “I am a dabbler and involved in many things - gardening, bird watching, accordion player and genealogy. I am not an expert on anything but I love watching things grow and learning new things and that is what the gardening club is all about. I really enjoy the speakers and love being around other people who enjoy the same interests. I learn so much.”
Keyes added that one of her focal points is “always trying to uncover a new adventure in the plant world. Fresh is always so much better. This year I tried to grow celery and found out it needs to be flooded on a weekly basis.”
Murphy said she planted the vegetable also and it ended up bitter, discovering after Keye’s statement that it was more than likely due to not enough watering, a valuable lesson learned thanks to the gardening connection.
On that note, Keyes said she would encourage anyone “with an interest in gardening, it doesn’t matter if its vegetables or flower, to take in a club meeting. We are always reaching out for new ideas and it is such great comaradie.”
“If someone is a gardener find another one and bring them along. We’ll throw out ideas, and suggestions, and do a lot of listening to what everyone has to say. And it doesn’t matter if you have vegetables, flowers or are growing something in a patio pot or are a master garden, we can all learn from each other.”
Anyone with questions can contact Keyes at 701-720-0670 or visit the club on Facebook.