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Fun sponges need not apply


I just got the Wisconsin Master Gardener newsletter. One of the articles in it was an admonishment by … um … someone that we should be calling our Master Gardener organizations “associations” rather than “clubs.” The author felt that calling them clubs made it seem as though such organizations are social rather than purposeful.

Well pardon me for raining on the serious parade but when did social and purposeful become mutually exclusive? One of the wonderful things about gardening is that it’s one the few hobbies (obsessions?) you can have that you can do alone or with others. Some people love the solitude of working in their gardens, and others love hanging out at the community garden or getting together with friends to clean out the beds of a public garden they volunteer to maintain. And I suspect, most of us like to do both.

Part of the reason I wanted to become a master gardener was because I thought it would be great to meet people to participate in garden projects with. And if after you’re done potting up plants for a sale or weeding a bed at a local women’s shelter, you decide to have a beer or a glass of Cabernet, what in the world is wrong with that?

The article in the master gardener newsletter said calling it, even informally, a “master gardener club” gives the wrong impression. But for an organization that can always use more members—our branch (pardon me, association) is very strong but we still are begging for volunteers for various projects—the wrong impression would be anything that discourages people from joining. And getting nitpicky about semantics about the name, is pretty damn discouraging.

Master gardeners, I’ve come to learn, are a nice bunch of people who want to learn more about their hobby, use their skills to help others and just have a good time. By making a fuss about whether we call ourselves a club or an association, those fun sponges reinforce all the negative sentiments they were working to dismiss in the first place.

And really, isn’t it supposed to be about fun? No one volunteers for an organization for long if they aren’t enjoying themselves. It’s time for some of the master gardeners to stop taking themselves so seriously. The rest of us having a great time and we’d love for them to join us.

So what do you think? Am dead wrong about the distinction (or lack thereof) between clubs and associations? Or do you think it’s time for everybody to stop worrying about who calls what what and to just get in the garden?

Photo courtesy of Flickr

2 Responses

  1. Around here, we are just “the Master Gardeners” as far as I know. I couldn’t say if that was intentional, to avoid the conflict you describe, or accidental. It works. But, our MGs are very much both a volunteer brigade and a social network. And frankly, I think that makes them a stronger group.

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