Gardening in Almonte: Let’s Celebrate Gardeners

David

On Saturday I had been persuaded, against my better judgement, to attend the Annual General Meeting of District 2 of the Ontario Horticultural Society – if you have ever attended an AGM I’m sure you know they can often be tedious sleep-inducing affairs. However this one was a delightful surprise. Held in Manotick, over 160 people from 19 horticultural societies in our area (including Almonte, Pakenham, West Carleton and Carleton Place) showed up to hear a couple of fascinating speakers. There was also a lovely lunch and a couple of breaks with an incredible amount of home baking.

But, after lunch, the plot thickened. I must admit that I dozed during the first part of the meeting after one too many ham sandwiches.  I was gradually becoming more alert as we approached the end of the business session and reached the awarding of the District Service Award. The Director chose to make it a guessing game gradually revealing the long list of things this worthy is involved in. She was two-thirds of the way through the list when I got the sinking feeling that this sounds a lot like me. Some very good friends from Carp had completely duped me!

Being very modest by nature, I felt very awkward receiving this award and wanted to crawl under my seat. At the time I was gobsmacked and absolutely speechless. However after sober second thought I decided that this said more about the people that I work with and what is happening in our society than about me personally. So I choose to celebrate this award and thank all of those who share my enthusiasm for gardening and who believe that food insecurity should not exist in our society.

I must admit that I have not always enthusiastically embraced Horticultural Societies. I have been a member of several and have found the focus to be largely on growing ornamentals, beautifying their local community and encouraging members to enter their flowers and designs in flower shows and local agricultural fairs. I have tried to nudge members in the direction of community gardens and growing vegetables –generally with what I have felt to be limited success.

However I have changed my mind. It’s not us and them! It’s not flower growers versus vegetable gardeners! There are a lot of similar skills – if you can grow a Rudbeckia you can grow a tomato!

Many Horticultural Societies have a close working relationship with Agricultural Societies, for example the Pakenham group is very involved in the Pakenham Fair. Although OHA members love a flower show, far more of their time is spent working on community beautification projects, planning and implementing sustainable environment projects, and monthly educational and entertaining speakers.