It was about 40 years ago that I began my foray into gardening. We planted two trees, an arctic willow hedge and we started some geranium cuttings that were quite successful. I read a lot, took some courses, subscribed to several horticulture magazines but it wasn’t until I began rubbing shoulders with members of a horticultural Society and a group of Master Gardeners that I feel that I really began to learn.

But it wasn’t just a matter of learning from experts, I learned from seniors in retirement homes and hospitals. A farmer at Freeport Hospital taught me about composting when he told me how he converted a really poor soil into a farm that was very viable. Adults living with developmental disabilities taught me about their love for gardening. Gardeners on our garden tours talked about their experiences. I learned so much.

As I thought about this today, I began to think that our Horticultural Societies provide the perfect learning environment with a mixture of young and old together. The older members have a ton of experience that they are more than willing to share. The young are sponges, eager to learn.

It made me realise that we need to maintain this mix. We need to interest the young into joining our societies and we need to provide programs that will keep the older members of the Society active. We can do this through Youth Groups but even more, we need to garden with our children and grandchildren. Our daughter and her children have caught the bug and our grandchildren volunteer with me in horticultural activities – therapy programs, youth groups and horticultural society events.

Are you interested in becoming a volunteer with gardenKitchener? Do you have ideas for children’s programming, or youth programming? Are you interested in joining the gardenKitchener Board of Directors? Send us a note – we’d love to have a conversation.

by Bruce MacNeil, gardenKitchener Board Member
Originally published February 8, 2010