September 6, 2023 | Rebecca Scott for Travel Phoenix Oregon
Since the 1970s, the Phoenix Garden Club has been a haven for individuals who share a love for gardening and nature’s amazing beauty and bounty.
In Phoenix, the club connects with the community through education about gardening, sustainable living practices and the natural world. They teach the importance of responsibly cultivating the earth and nurturing the bonds that tie us together.
A time of renewal
With a decades-long presence in the community, Phoenix Garden Club has a wealth of information to share with current and aspiring gardeners. However, the club has faced some challenges since the Almeda Fire and the pandemic, according to club president Jill Harju.
“We’re using this as an opportunity to re-establish and refresh our organization,” said Jill.
The club currently has seven members, but each one is involved in every aspect of the group.
“We all plant, come to meetings and attend community events,” said Jill.
As they look toward the future, Phoenix Garden Club has several new ideas about how to connect with the community — one of which is to partner with local businesses to see if the club could plant different flora outside their store fronts.
The Phoenix Garden Club also hopes to connect with the local high school and offer another avenue for students to complete their community service hours.
“Over the years, we’ve hosted different fundraisers and events, so there’s plenty for student volunteers to do!” said Jill.
Additionally, the club has taken money raised from past events and funneled it right back to the community. In previous years they’ve given endowments to several local organizations, including Cascade Girl and the fire department.
“All the money we raise goes back into the community. We love Phoenix and want to do everything we can to contribute and help other local organizations.”
Helping the community
The members of Phoenix Garden Club work tirelessly for the community, and love every second of it. But they’ve noticed the needs of the community have changed and they want to adapt to those changes.
At their last plant sale, Jill explained that people sought more food starts rather than decorative plants.
“Before COVID, people wanted pretty plants to decorate their yards. Now they’re looking for food, like tomatoes, herbs and cucumbers.”
The club members soon realized people wanted to know how to plant food and provide for themselves, especially as food prices rose. It was a telling trend, and the club wanted to educate people about how to plant and harvest their own fruits and vegetables.
“A lot of people here live in apartments, but our members advised them on how to have a successful garden in a small space — like how to grow tomatoes and peppers in a five gallon bucket,” said Jill.
For Jill and the other members of the Phoenix Garden Club, it’s important to get families and children involved in gardening. There’s so much to learn about what grows well together and when, and the club wants to make a handout of helpful tips for new and seasoned gardeners.
“Our focus is getting the community what they need,” she said.
Nurturing a healthier future
Over the past few years, the Phoenix Garden Club has reconstructed itself from ground up and continued to fine tune what they offer and how they help the community.
In addition to offering more food starts, the club is actively working on educating the community with more speakers. Previous presenters have spoken about everything from composting, to bird houses and different types of trees.
“Anyone is welcome to attend the first part of our meetings and listen to our speakers,” said Jill.
The Phoenix Garden Club has played a pivotal role in the community since the 1970s. As people look for new ways to positively interact with nature — and provide homegrown food for themselves and their families — the club will be there to educate the community and help it thrive.
If you are interested in joining the club or want to be a speaker, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Phoenix Garden Club Facebook page