Garden Association Leaves Room For Growth

The founders of the Hudson Valley Garden Association (HVGA) are planning to spread the organization’s roots to help garden enthusiasts nurse their budding interests.

Laura Wilson and Rebecca Glembocki met several years ago at Hodgson Farm & Garden Center in Walden, N.Y., where Wilson was the manager. After bonding over their mutual love of gardening and the Hudson Valley, they kept in touch as their career paths changed.

Wilson created the Hudson Valley Garden Calendar, a website dedicated to promoting local gardening events.

“I wanted to give back to the community in some gardening way and I just decided instead of donating my time to one group or one gardener, I could do this website and help everybody by giving them free promotion and free advertising,” Wilson said.

The website was a catalyst for HVGA, Wilson said, and she hopes to showcase local garden-centric businesses through events and social media platforms like Facebook and online newsletters.

“Everything we do is to kind of give everybody the chance to be in the spotlight,” Wilson said.

One way Wilson and Glembocki said they hope to achieve this is by hosting a winter lecture series. During the months of January, February and March, speakers from different garden organizations will lend their knowledge to other Hudson Valley gardeners and businesses about different topics.

The first meeting was held on Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Shawangunk Town Hall in Wallkill with 16 people of various ages in attendance, Glembocki said.

“Our meeting was wonderful,” Glembocki said. “Full of energetic, enthusiastic people interested in HVGA.”

Wilson said that people from all over the Hudson Valley from “all different levels and interests” turned out for the meeting. She said she was especially happy to see young people in attendance because those demographics are often underrepresented at garden events.

“It really was, I mean for me, the ideal audience,” Wilson said. “The whole thing with this project is to kind of bring everybody together and from our very first meeting it did that.”

Lily Norton, founder of Garden Newburgh and a master gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County, attended the meeting and said HVGA is important to the gardening community, as the hobby is popular in America.

“Gardeners are always looking for when the next garden event is and programs that will help them become better gardeners,” Norton said.

Glembocki said the HVGA differs from traditional garden clubs because of its scope. She said other garden clubs gather individuals from hyper-local areas while HVGA aims to bring together garden enthusiasts from all over the Hudson Valley and create programs that are not provided at garden clubs.

A paid membership program is being developed as well as trips to gardens across the Hudson Valley. According to the website, the organization will also develop classroom garden curricula for teachers and to foster the creation, maintenance and renovation of public garden spaces.

Wilson said she hopes to continue developing this idea while sparking the interest of younger generations to “inject some young blood” into the gardening community. Though she has received warnings about starting a nonprofit organization in a less than ideal economy, Wilson said she isn’t worried.

“I believe wholeheartedly that the timing of the organization is great,” Wilson said. “You know, everybody says ‘eh, the economy, you’re starting a non-profit.’ That doesn’t concern me. I think the interest in gardening is absolutely [on] the rise.”

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. at Shawangunk Town Hall.