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Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club- History

Conservation Garden Park Education Center

I have wanted to start a ‘Garden Club’ here locally for more than a decade.  I had the great opportunity of providing staff support to the Sandy Garden Club many years ago when I was fresh out of college and working as a City employee in Community Development. My positive experiences with that Club sparked a great interest in creating a club in my neighborhood when the time was right.  Then there were 3 kids in 3 years.  And trying to get my own landscaping done.  A business or two. And- oh yeah- that massive public playground project I helped spearhead which took several years.  The timing for a Club just wasn’t right.

Wild West Jordan Playground

Utah-history based playground designed, in part, by elementary school kids from 17 schools and built by 6,000 volunteers over a 10 day period in May, 2005.

In 2007 I started volunteering at the fledgling “Conservation Garden Park” down the street from my house.  I had heard they wanted to build an Education Center and I thought it could be the perfect ‘home’ for a Garden Club.  Armed with the community organizing and fundraising skills I gained via the playground project, I decided to help get the Education Center built by serving on their Advisory Council and assisting with fundraising.  Can you see how much I wanted to make this group happen?

Conservation Garden Park Education Center

Conservation Garden Park Education Center, opened January 2012

I discovered blogging in 2008 and started my own little Mom Blog (Creative Chaos) which I still try and update from time to time.  Blogging opened up a whole new world to me and I became particularly fascinated by the DIY projects that so many interesting home bloggers were accomplishing- though there were many fewer garden blogs to be found on that subject.  I knew I wanted my “Garden Club” to have that element to it.  Afterall, what good is education if people don’t have the skills to implement what they’ve learned?

I was lucky to be hired to work for the Conservation Garden Park in Fall of 2010 and one of my first goals was to implement the Club. As I researched ‘Garden Clubs’ I discovered that the standard format for them hadn’t changed since they began in the 1900s!  Most people don’t live the way they did back then and I couldn’t imagine a monthly Club based primarily on competitive flower arranging!  It didn’t take long to realize we were going to need to do something radically different that would totally break the mold- and nothing gets my creative juices flowing more than attempting something out-of-the-box crazy (see playground project above)! 

Conservation Garden Park

Design Path Exhibits at Conservation Garden Park

The mission of Conservation Garden Park is to educate EVERYONE with a landscape to care for- not just those who self-identify as gardeners.  We decided that people who care about the INSIDE of their homes, likely want the outside to look nice too- whether or not they wish to spend a lot of time there.  Our Garden is about practical LANDSCAPING ideas that homeowners can implement and our “Club” should be the same. The idea for a “Home & Garden Club” was the natural conclusion to the above considerations. 

Most “Garden Clubs” are exclusive organizations for those invited to join.  We wanted to be the polar opposite of THAT paradigm too!  Anyone who wants to learn is welcome.  Live outside of our area? No problem- we’re having a significant online component to ensure anyone who wants to participate on some level is able to do so.  A big part of the Club is helping people build their confidence and abilities to tackle home and/or yard projects.  If you can do one successfully, you can do the other.  DIY skills are DIY skills- whether they are applied inside or outside.

A view of part of the Garden surrounding the Education Center

In the last few months I’ve been honored to have some wonderful women join the effort to launch the Club.  I am so thankful for their ideas, energy, help and support.  Since the format and goal of this Club is so different than anything people are familiar with, it can be hard to explain what it is and how it will function.  The women currently helping with the group immediately grasped the concept and have been an integral part of visioning and creating this Club! And hey- if you want to help us move the Club forward, we’re happy to have YOU serve alongside us and make a difference in our communities! We’re open to consider all ideas! E-mail me and we’d love to include you.

There is a charge for special events ($10 for the Super Awesome kick-off party on June 9th) but membership in the Club is free.  We will host real-world classes once per month in the Education Center at Conservation Garden Park.  The monthly classes are free.  We will post a short video of the highlights from classes on our Facebook Page and/or Blog.

I’ll be honest- it’s a little scary to have nutured the seed for this Club for 10 years then fling it out to the world and hope that others see the value in it.  I have a bit of a fear of failure here. What if people don’t LIKE this idea?  What if it they think it’s great- just not for them?  What if all the hours of planning and loss of sleep don’t really amount to anything?  I guess one way or another, it’s time to find out!

I will post later about our “Summer Soiree” event in more detail.  It’s going to be one heck of a kickoff party thanks to the vision of:

Emily, Jeni, Leanne, Jessica, Judi, Joy, Jamie, Sausha, Cassity, Mindy, and Wendy. 

Thanks for giving your time and leveraging your reputations to make this thing happen- it could NEVER have happened without you!  Now go check out the Club website then get your ticket for the Summer Soiree!  Great classes, awesome company, delicious food and incredible music all happening in a gorgeous 5 acre garden.  It’s a rare opportunity to enjoy an event like this unless you’re on the ‘social circuit’ for the well-to-do.  Don’t miss your chance to enjoy an enchanting garden party and meet other people who love the same things YOU do!

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  • Virginia Hooper
    January 30, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    Cynthia, I love your ideas and what you do! Like you, I am a Mom of three young children with a Master Degree in Landscape Architecture from USU, and a Natural Resource and Environmental Policy certificate. I grew up in West Jordan and my kids and their cousins love love love that park! I worked for the Arnold Arboretum in Boston as an intern and for a larger landscape design and build company in Draper and then I went to work designing my family. I’m in Tooele now and am finding the time to get back into some of my hair brained schemes. Other than the Master Gardener’s Society, there is no other gardening group here in the area. I’ve tried for nine years to start classes through the USU Extension. Between having babies and waiting for a new session to start, (the society meetings are advertised among the members, and classes are only offered it to new-commers once every three years), I just got in this year! Better late than never is my motto in this case. I really enjoy talking with plant nerdy people as well as those who claim they have a black thumb. I find that despite my education and work experience in the green industry, I can never learn it all. There is a real need for all players in the market – plant growers, designers, home owners, landscape installers and maintenance crews- to work together to make good things better and new ideas succeed. Especially in the area of conservation gardening. I think your Jordan Valley Garden Club is a grand idea and I’m sure it will take off. If I lived closer, I would love to attend. I also love your posts on container gardening. I love to re-purpose all kinds of things into planters. Keep the dream alive! – Can’t wait to see what becomes of it.
    Sincerely, Virginia

    • Cynthia
      July 6, 2015 at 5:29 pm

      I am just barely seeing you comment as I’m not active over here anymore. Might have to change that. Thanks so much for the encouragement. There’s a time for everything- I took a 10-year sabbatical to be an at-home Mom and it was the best decision for our family. I’m sure you’ll have lots of designing ahead but, as you say, there’s a time and place for all of it. Enjoy your years at home!