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Setting up and running a successful gardening club

22 November 2016 by Rolawn

Hook Gardening Club Meeting

Have you ever thought about joining a local gardening club, but don't know of any? Well why not start one yourself? It's not as daunting as you may think.

I am the Founder of Hook Gardening Club based in East Yorkshire, which was started in September 2010, after a number of villagers commented '…it's such a shame there isn't a local gardening club - go on Justine get it organised....' so I did!!! We are now in our sixth season of talks and meetings and our club continues to grow.

Planning started in late spring 2010. I spent LOTS of time on the internet trying to find other gardening clubs, asking for advice, pulling things together and of course the most important thing; fundraising. Keeping the funds coming in, was and still is vital. Baking and selling cakes and making preserves all contribute to our funds.

We had to tell the world we were here, so I contacted local newspapers, created a website, used social media and advertised everywhere with leaflets and posters in garden centres, village halls, shops and even villager’s windows.

I eventually booked our first Speaker, BBC Radio Humberside Gardening Expert Doug Stewart for our inaugural September 2010 meeting. We had a very successful meeting with more than 50 visitors. I was absolutely delighted that all the hard work had paid off.

Fundraising

We don't ask for an annual membership fee (although some clubs do). We prefer 'pay as you visit', charging £3 per person on the door which includes free refreshments. As well as having a speaker at our meetings, we have a seasonal shrub raffle prize which is donated by our annual sponsor, Henley’s Nurseries at Market Weighton. In exchange for the raffle prizes we give them mentions on our website, encourage visitors to visit their nursery and add mentions on our social media throughout the year http://hookgardening.club/2016-2017-sponsor-henleys-nurseries/.

We also run a plant and seed swap minimum donation 50p (if you haven't brought something to swap) and a gardening book lending library borrow a book and bring it back at the next meeting. Our monthly meetings continue to welcome 30-40 visitors, with some new faces every month.

Hook Gardening club attends Goole Annual Hobbies exhibition in March each year, which is another opportunity to promote the club and sell a few seeds, jars of jam etc and hand out LOTS of leaflets. We have approached local garden centres and have been online for donations to use as raffle prizes, in exchange I list their company name and website address on the supporters page of our website and mention them on social media. We have been very lucky with the support we have received to date.

Sourcing Horticultural Speakers

Sourcing horticultural speakers for the club wasn't impossible, but nor was it easy at times. The RHS has a speakers list and garden clubs have their own websites but again, someone said to me “there isn't a website that connects speakers and clubs. What we need is an 'all in one website”. So yes, you guessed it, the Garden Club Listings was created – a one stop website listing 160+ (so far) horticultural speakers from all over the UK providing the opportunity to promote their talks and FREE listings for all Gardening Clubs/societies to promote their clubs, meetings and most importantly, source speakers. If you are a garden club or Horticultural Speaker and would like to be listed, full details are on the website.

If you'd like to start up a gardening club the following article might give you some more inspiration: http://www.gardenclublistings.co.uk/garden-clubs/how-to-start-a-new-gardening-club-from-scratch

Hook Open Gardens

During a gardening club meeting, a couple of visitors mentioned that Open gardens used to be run in our village years ago, so we decided to resurrect it and run it biennially. The following year in 2011, we started Hook Open Gardens.

I took over as organiser in 2013 and am now planning for 2017. It is always held on the last Sunday in June, so next year’s event will be held on Sunday 25 June, 11am - 4pm. You can find us at http://hookgardening.club/hook-open-gardens-2017 and also on Facebook and Twitter – or just search Hook Open Gardens 2017.

To help cover our printing costs I contact local businesses asking for a donation of £25. In return the company has their name printed on the brochure as a sponsor. I also invite 3-4 stall holders eg crafts/potters/plants and charge £40 a stand at Hook Memorial Hall, where all visitors attend. This provides a good income before our visitors pay £3.50 per person to buy a map and enter our event. Last year’s event was very successful, which you can read about at http://hookgardening.club/hook-open-gardens-2015/

Hook Gardening Club meets on the last Friday of the month (excluding June, July, August and December) at Hook Memorial Hall DN14 5PG 7pm start - All Welcome. Full list of guest speakers and meetings are listed on the website www.hookgardening.club.

Happy Gardening.

Justine Dixon
Hook Gardening Club Founder & Organiser