As You Sow
Austin C. Kennell, Afton, VA
There's not a whole lot of difference in growing healthy, happy plants and developing a vigorous, responsive ARS chapter. The same ingredients - interest, care, and effort - are just about all that are necessary for success in either case.
The Middle Atlantic Chapter is a healthy, purposeful chapter. Sure, we're prejudiced; but we believe we have the finest people, the most interesting meetings and the best member benefits of any chapter in the ARS. An idle boast? Well, maybe, but how else do you account for the fact that our 1983 fall meeting drew over 160 people from distances up to 250 miles who paid over $22.00 each out of their own pocket for a one-day meeting plus paying for one night, and in some cases, two nights lodging! Many also donated plants, served in various volunteer capacities, brought guests, hauled in meeting materials, and spent many hours planning the meeting.
What makes a good chapter? Well, here are some of the things that make the M.A.C. a great chapter:
Since we believe you should aim higher than your reach, we've got a lot of other things on the drawing board - problem hot lines; hosting the 1988 ARS convention in Williamsburg, Va.; greater cooperation with the other District Nine chapters; group tours to areas outside the M.A.C. home grounds; chapter or district test garden(s); new member buddy system; and other possible activities and services.
- Meetings are held in different places in the M.A.C. area.
- Meetings are designed to be interesting both to the experienced and the novice.
- A yearly Plants for Members program whereby rooted cuttings of rare and unusual plants are propagated by members and sold to members at very nominal prices.
- An annual plant auction of plants donated by members.
- Periodic special offerings of plants owned and propagated by the chapter.
- An outstanding newsletter issued four times a year featuring articles by and about members, growing tips, source information, a "wanted" column, etc.
- Ratings of plants grown in the M.A.C. area.
- Joint meetings with our District Nine in-laws - the Potomac Valley and Mason-Dixon chapters; the Azalea Society of America, and other organizations.
- An emphasis on azaleas - evergreen, deciduous, and natives as well as rhododendrons.
- Very short business meetings. Maximum socializing time.
- Special attention is given to new members including a letter of welcome, an activities and service list; an interest questionnaire; a list of area plant sources; special identification at meetings; and various occasional programs such as free plants, free cuttings and seeds, and credit to use at plant auctions.
- Garden tours of members' gardens and nurseries.
- Special meeting attractions such as a box lunch in a garden, a Hawaiian luau buffet around a hotel swimming pool, sharing ten-foot submarine sandwiches, seafood at the shore, wine and cheese in a garden setting, coffee and rolls for early arrivals, dessert social for members arriving the evening before, door prizes, visits to unusual places, special discounts at nurseries visited, etc.
- An annual Flower Show with attractive useful trophies.
- A close relationship with the outstanding Plant Pathology Department of Virginia Tech University.
- A dedicated, enthusiastic and responsive Board of Directors.
- The diversity of three different climate zones.
- A Chapter Document Repository serving as an archives for chapter records, correspondence and publications at the Alderman Library of the University of Virginia.
- A healthy, growing treasury built largely by various fund-producing activities.
- A good blend of commercial growers, garden nurserymen, amateur hobbyists, and new, eager beginners providing a wide variety of talents and interests.
- And, most important of all, a willingness to share and help.
In the M.A.C, we've found out that as you sow, so shall you reap. All it takes is interest, care, and effort!