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Horticultural society sees membership thriving


With a history spanning 75 years, the Fort Frances Horticultural Society is no stranger to change and growth--evident of late in both its meeting format and membership popularity.

Meetings, held the fourth Monday of each month from March to October, have had an extra emphasis put on learning, society president Astrid Sobkowicz said.

"It has always been a business meeting with a little bit of [horticultural] instruction at the end," she noted. "Now we take the first half-hour of the meeting and make it an information and learning session."

The half-hour slot focuses on a different topic each month, with members volunteering to give short presentations on horticultural issues ranging from planting seeds to garden pests to preparing for a flower show.

"It’s a more detailed, educational thing and that’s great for a lot of new members who haven’t done [much] gardening," Sobkowicz said.

And new members are exactly what Sobkowicz is on the look out for all the time--with several new individuals added to the roster this year.

"The society is doing very well. We’re up around 70 for sure now," she said. Previous years had seen numbers hovering around 60.

Melanie Mathieson, a two-year society member and its secretary/treasurer, also is pleased to see new faces joining. And she’s delighted with the fact new members are of a younger generation.

"Since I got involved in the [society], there have been about 20 new members in the [30-40] age group," she noted. "It’s not just for senior citizens and retired people."

One of those recent members is Dana-Lynn Begin, 29, a seniors’ personal banking rep at the Royal Bank here, who couldn’t be happier about her choice to join--a decision she made after being approached by some of her clients.

And not only did Begin join, she convinced two fellow employees to do the same.

"The three of us were just getting started in gardening and we figured we could use some insight to make sure everything would grow," she chuckled.

"I’ve always been teased that I don’t have a very good green thumb so I thought to myself ‘I’ll show you people,’" she laughed.

"I love it. The meetings are really informative and we learn a tremendous amount," she added. "And our flowers are blooming lovely!"

Co-worker Heather Johnson, customer service manager at the Royal Bank, agreed the local horticultural society has offered her a great chance to learn more about plants.

And she noted getting involved in the group or in gardening has benefits above and beyond any concerns over how old you have to be.

"Gardening is so therapeutic. To go out in your garden and forget about everything, especially if you have a stressful job, is [great]," she reasoned.

"It gives me such a sense of accomplishment and wonder."

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