By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
“It wasn’t my idea”, stated Jane Barb, the first president of the Mountaineer Garden Club that was established in July of 1958.
She continued telling the story of the River City Garden Club that several locals wanted to join, but it was full. “I didn’t want to be the President, but I told Patty Michaels if she would be the Vice President and help me, I would do it and she agreed”. “Oh she was great”, smiled Barb when recollecting the very beginning. “We even sponsored a dance at the gymnasium, a March of Diamond dance, and we packed that place”, she exclaimed. Barb served two, two year terms as President, and then she admitted, “I even got kicked out of the Garden Club. You could miss three meetings and I missed four, so I was kicked out”.
The group was federated in 1959 by a group of women who set out to beautify their community. Their objectives were simple: stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening in the community, to aid in the protection of native wildflowers, trees, and birds, encourage civic plantings, and beautify the city. A seemingly simple, yet very important task.
The garden club maintains the aesthetics on Route 72 at the Parsons Welcome sign, which is always well decorated. Club members also decorate “The Nina Tree”, named after past President Nina Buchanan, at the Courthouse for Christmas each year. A big contribution made by the club is the donation of money to the local 4-H club assisting youth in being able to attend 4-H camp. Homemade valentines are presented by the club to the residents of Cortland Acres and annual floral displays are held at the local banks. At these floral events, the public is invited to vote on their favorite display. Most of us have heard of the yard of the month that makes the paper as well. This is selected by the Garden Club members from April through October. Club members also purchase and donate trees in celebration of Arbor Day which are then planted around the community at places such as at Mill Race Park.
Faith Moore, active member for the past two years explained her desire to pick up more activities in the community. They yearn to work with the City Hall Back Garden and offer some plant therapy or activities with the residents of Cortland Acres. Moore also expressed a potential for a Junior Gardeners Club that would build upon what they have started within the schools’ third and fourth grade classes helping plant and maintain the Butterfly Garden. Another goal for the entire club is to receive the Blue Star Memorial Recognition. To qualify for this, you must work with the local veterans and submit an application and pay a fee. Those are then evaluated and selected for them to display with honor if chosen.
The anniversary celebration boasted members from every decade while finger food and refreshments were provided by Piccolo Paula’s. The room was festively decorated and had displays portraying each decade from the beginning until now, listing all of the past Presidents, pictures from activities, and literature pertinent to that time frame. Commissioner Diane Hinkle and Commissioner Lowell Moore attended to congratulate the group on such a successful venture with hopes of many more. First President Jane Barb and current President Vivian Shomo had the honor of cutting the cake at the celebration. Attendees signed up for door prizes and a great time was had by the nearly fifty attendees.
Becoming a member of the Mountaineer Garden Club is easy and beneficial. Not only can you be a part of all the aforementioned activities, but it gives you the opportunity to network with other gardeners on a local, state, and national level. There are district, state, and national meetings available for members to attend that offer diverse horticultural courses. Annual dues are just $15 and the group meets the first Tuesday of each month, with the exception of January and July, at the Five Rivers Library. For more information on the Mountaineer Garden Club or on becoming a member, contact President Vivian Shomo at email@example.com